In September 2016 I gave an all day Chinese brush painting workshop at Lung Hsiang, the San Diego Chapter of the American Artists of Chinese Brush Painting. The subject was “Zen Garden in Four Seasons.” The inspiration came from a Buddhist temple I visited in Kyoto, Japan, in 1985, over 30 years ago, whose image I will always treasure. It was a simple rock garden with carefully raked gravel, enclosed by a temple wall, and a cherry tree in full blossom was dripping pink petals on to the rock garden. In my painting lesson I simplified this vision even further, hoping to teach how to convey emotions with just a few elements and a limited color palette.
I just returned from an amazing trip back to Japan (April 2017), and of course I had to go back to that temple to see if my memory served me well. The rock garden is at the Ryoanji Temple in Kyoto, a truly spiritual place for me.
Here is my painting of “Zen Garden in Early Spring” and a photograph of the rock garden with cherry blossoms dripping over the wall – just as I remembered it!