Buddha Floating

K.Kauffman, Buddha Floating,
20”x16”, Ink, Acrylic, 2022

Using ink and acrylic, I drew a meditating figure floating atop a void. The darkened ovoid space below the figure reminded me of an apple-shape. I grew up in Seattle and we had several apple trees on our land, perfect places of refuge. On many a spring, summer and autumn day, I climbed a tree with a favorite book and savored the tart fruit as I read for hours. Reading has always put me in a restful state of mental joy, akin to meditating. At times, I closed the book and felt the sway of the branches in the wind, the bright flashes of green leaves catching the sun, the soft sound of fluttering pink and crystalline white blossoms, the smell of summer heat on the fruit, the autumnal sweet scent of decaying and often wet vegetation. The scratchy bark on the tree massaged my skin as I climbed or changed position on a bough. Although, at the time, I had no word for this contemplative experience, I now realize that I had enjoyed tree meditations throughout my childhood.

The figure I depicted has three parts: an area on the right consists of tiny ink lines, the left arm with part of a chest and leg of a seated meditator and a dark outline adjacent, like a shadow.  These divisions within the whole shape of the person afloat remind me of aspects of meditation that I regularly experience. I feel my ever-present corporal body, my bent leg’s pressure on the floor, my shoulders aching and wanting to change position. At the same time, memories and emotions arise, like wandering shadows that demand my attention. I try my best to let them go. Fine ink lines in half the figure represent the pure enjoyment that profound mental and physical rest bring: a tingling all over, a peaceful spirit and a sensation of floating.

The meditating figure above the apple shape makes complete sense to me, an encapsulation of my past and present experiences which I would never have thought of with my rational mind. But when I start to draw, they come flowing out unbidden, happy surprises.

Buddha Floating is represented by the Walter Wickiser Gallery in New York. Go to walterwickisergallery.com