Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Shodo zen calligraphy practice




Trying out the zen enso circle, symbol of universality and the idea of beauty within imperfection.





Small to medium fude for sho on single hanshi sheets.





Working on the character nen – commonly translated as mindfulness or mindful, also attention or care. There is a balance needed between the two parts of the kanji.





The fude brushes hanging to dry – looking like they need another good rinse!


flux – interchanging – equalising


Sho calligraphy mark making




Making some marks with fude brushes and fudepen using Japanese sumi ink. Beginning practicing for a series of three Drawing and Painting Studio workshops. Experimenting with the brush stopping and flicking, speed of the marks and energy.

In the first Shodo group the Kanji characters ten – heavens/ sky and shin or kokoro – heart/ mind. I have chosen zen related characters for participants to practice.


Aye Write! Book Festival community art publication – ‘Future’

  • 02 March 2017
  • Art

For the Aye Write! 2017 book festival I was asked to help deliver a project combining art and literacy, working with adult learners and tutors from around Glasgow city.





We came up with a book of creative writing and drawing, experimenting with various approaches that allowed individuals to express themselves to a theme of ‘learning for the future’.






Season’s Greetings 2017



Have a super duper 2017 and all the very best wishes for a peaceful holiday.

Creatively 2016 has been really varied, and has seen work on various visual projects, particularly photography and drawings, both getting more abstract and playful.

Recently I have been running free community art classes in Ruchill and Maryhill in Glasgow for young people and adults. I’ll be growing these into the North West and East of the city in 2017.
www.drawingandpaintingstudio.com


Evolving photography works

C-print gold 2 (www.blairthomson.com)


C-print gold 1 (www.blairthomson.com)


Working with nature, plus my own ‘sculptural’ props and my trusty old nikon dslr, and recent smaller digital camera, I’ve been going on to develop various series of photographs and c-prints. The two images I’ve selected here are from work on the Scottish Hebrides. These series have gradually become more abstracted and playful with colour and atmosphere, and are influencing new drawing and painting experiments in terms of colour blocks and composition.


The light will not break – Kusen Collaboration with John Fraser

C-print for Kusen 129 (www.blairthomson.com)


John’s Kusen

Book Of Serenity, Case 36: Master Ma Is Unwell

The Case: Master Ma was unwell. The monastery superintendent asked, “Master, how is your venerable state these days?”
The Great Teacher said, “Sun face buddha, Moon face buddha”

Commentary: “unwell” is a euphemism. Master Ma (Baso) was mortally ill, and died the following day.

Sun Face Buddha was said to have a lifespan of 1800 years. Moon Face Buddha lived only one day and one night. Baso is talking about two aspects of experience, once our egoic self concern has dropped away.

The Universe can only express itself through each thing. If there were no things, there would be no light.

Sometimes, we are very aware that we are expressing something universal through this fragile, transient body. The Moon illuminates itself, and everything it casts its light on becomes part of it.

Other times, we forget this body, and are simply part of this illuminated world.

The light can only shine through each thing, and each thing will break

The light will not break


More zen articles at Kusen & Notes from John


Beyond Kyoto on the Nishiyama mountain trail



Nishiyama 8 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama Drawing 2 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 6 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 4 (www.blairthomson.com)


off the beaten track, drawing through the dense foliage
impenetrable undergrowth
seeking colour and light blasting –
near the magical ponpon yama hills


Nishiyama 1


Nishiyama Drawing 1 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 7 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 2 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 5 (www.blairthomson.com)


Season’s Greetings 2016

season's greetings (www.blairthomson.com)1


Have a great 2016 and all the very best wishes.


Body of the Ground – Kusen Collaboration with John Fraser



User comments


John’s Kusen

“Those who fall to the ground get up relying on the ground”

Interdependent origination is difficult for us because we have an unexamined idea of time: it is like an arrow, going from past to future, yet past, present and future don’t have equal weight. The past is like an accumulating avalanche, flooding into the empty space of the future. The present is the interface between the two. The ground is invisible.

When we sit, there is the opportunity to experience time in a different way. The head of the present moment is balanced on the body of the ground, and it can go anywhere.


More zen articles at Kusen & Notes from John