I really do not consider myself to be the artist, that is, the sole creator, of these works. They are largely the product of natural processes beyond my control. I establish causes and conditions by which the images are influenced as they, themselves, more or less paint themselves. My goal is to reduce any too obvious effects of whatever parameters I put in place. So that the image may magically appear of itself, in harmony with the medium — primarily traditional sumi ink of Zen artistry — in concert with various water-based pigments on substrates including paper, plastic and painted board.

Taoist and Zen ideals of harmony in action manifest in balance when surrendering to the medium. Paying undivided attention as to what IT is trying to do. It is no mere accident except in Ambrose Bierce’s definition from The Devil’s Dictionary: “An inevitable occurrence due to the action of immutable natural laws.”

When I do not interfere too much or too little a genuine masterpiece occurs, much like any stain, spill, splotch, mold or spot. I hope the display of this work as art turns the attention of the viewer to the beauty that is all around, in every corner of this world we inhabit.

Michael Elliston is an abbott and teacher at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center. His Zen inspired work is created using traditional sumi ink and various other water based pigments on paper, plastic or painted board. According to Elliston, his works are an exploration of the organic behaviors of the materials he has chosen, allowing the image to emerge under its own natural laws.

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