Illustration Friday – Empty

This week’s Illustration Friday theme is Emptiness.
The inspiration for my project comes from the story of the Zen matriarch Chiyono.
As the legend goes, she had been seeking enlightenment for years, but it had eluded her, no matter how hard she studied and how diligently she practiced.
One night, she was carrying water in a very old bamboo bucket and noticed the reflection of the moon in the water. As she gazed at it, suddenly the bamboo band that held the bucket together fell apart. In that moment there was no bucket, no water and no moon, and she became enlightened. She wrote a verse about it and this is the popular translation:

“In this way and that I tried to keep the pail together.
I hoped the weak bamboo would never break.
Then suddenly the bottom fell out.
No more water; no more moon in the water.
Emptiness in my hand.”

  1. Aravis
    August 11, 2005

    What a wonderful illustration! I like the story that inspired it.

  2. victorie
    August 11, 2005

    that’s very beautiful, Karen, the shades, the blue… and the story….

  3. velvet
    August 11, 2005

    what a nice story that goes perfectly well with your illo! i was especially taunted by the last lines… “..No more water; no more moon in the water. Emptiness in my hand.”

  4. Michele
    August 11, 2005

    I love this piece, Karen–how you used the monochromatic color scheme,
    the way the light shimmers in the bucket with the moon reflected in it. I love
    what you chose to draw. You could have drawn the whole woman, but I
    love just the hand, the bucket and the moon, which of course disappear in
    the end. Really beautiful work.

  5. elaine
    August 12, 2005

    I love Illu Fridays with a story attached :)
    This is a beautiful illustration and a great story.

  6. erika
    August 12, 2005

    beautiful! i can’t say much more :)

  7. Miyuki
    August 12, 2005

    Funny you should call upon a Zen story. I was just rolling over in my mind how the Japanese/Chinese character for “empty” is also the character for “sky”.