The Zen of Seeing

The Zen of Seeing
Seeing/Drawing as Meditation
Frederick Franck
Vintage Books
ISBN: 039471968

I’ve read in the ‘Zen of Seeing, Seeing/Drawing as Meditation’ by Frederick Franck on the feelings Franck experiences at the beginning of a drawing session. He tells that at the beginning of a drawing session, he is often in a state of agitation, even panic. His ‘Me’ is calming down as soon as he relates to the object of his drawing. When he starts to ‘see’, the anxieties, memories, daydreams cease. Franck quotes the Indian philosopher Aurobindo, who was also a poet, mentioning that the consistent practice of an art in the end constitutes a kind of yoga.

When I plan an hour of drawing and as soon I have everything organized, I feel intimidated by the object that I plan to draw. That is because I look at all the different colours, the twists and turns, the structure and oh…there is so much to see and draw, will I be able to catch it?

Due to feeling intimidated, I consider easy ways out. Shall I make a photo and then study the lines? No, I dislike sitting in front of a screen, making photos or any other short-cut. I want to draw! I feel passionate about freehand drawing. The last thing on my wish-list for an hour of uninterrupted drawing is the use of a camera or a computer or any digital gadget for that matter. I want to sit, draw, and feel that timelessness that comes when you are absorbed in the process of mindfully drawing.

When I study the object, I bridge the distance between the object and me, and the result is pleasing. I feel much better and up to the task. If I do not get ‘there’, if I do not get focussed, my drawing most likely ends up in the bin. This is, of course, nothing special. All artists do something to get focussed.

Do you listen to music that helps you to concentrate? Do you take a few deep breaths? Or you drink tea? I can only draw when my beloved family members are relaxed and happy. Drawing is creating harmony but is requires it too.

How does this work for you?

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula Kuitenbrouwer sells exquisite original drawings, fine art cards of her drawings as well as reproductions, and fabrics.

See Purchase in the header for what is available as well as the price list.

Contact Paula at

10 thoughts on “The Zen of Seeing

  1. This sounds like a lovely book.

    I discovered the zen of making art only last year. In allowing myself to be totally free with painting, I learnt to be still with drawing. Never before had I been able to draw in detail, but now I found it meditative.

    I do love the digital bits though. I lose myself entirely editing a photo on my computer.
    Making art is zen. Flow.


    1. Hi, Mon, using different techniques (traditional & digital) is named ‘mixed media’. (I learned that not too long ago ;-)).
      I am often pleasantly surprised to see mixed media works.
      Hope to see your art work at your lovely blog soon too!


  2. Yes, drawing is zen as any art that requires total concentration. It is connection, between body, mind, nervous system plus the subject and the distance between us and it. It is working out in a semi-conscious way the problems posed by turning the three-dimensional to two, and fitting it to scale in our page. It is giving birth to something that wasn’t there before, and that is pure motherly joy.


    1. Indeed, Concetta, it is pure motherly joy. And that is probably why I draw and paint much better after becoming a mother. There is less ego now and more sensitivity. Less hurry and more admiration for life. Many thanks for your beautiful words.


  3. Franck’s book is food for much thought, Paula. I recognize the truth in what he has written every time I return to it…but then I forget, and I’m back to that state he describes as “a state of agitation, even panic!” Thank you for re-minding me of this approach once again. Even when one is working mostly from imagination, presence and attention are paramount…everything else seems to take care of itself. This is the *real* lesson/gift of being an artist, I think. Probably in Life too. Lucky us, we get to practice regularly! 🙂


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