Simply, The 7th Day of Zen

cobalt teal, simple zen abstract,

The 7th Day of Zen arrives!  After a wonderful, enlightening artistic journey the final element of the Zen Art Series is Simplicity – “kanso.”  In other words, keeping it simple.

cobalt teal, simple zen abstract,
Japanese Dreamscape


Simplicity. Simplifying. Simple

Simple is not as easy as it sounds.

Our minds and eyes seem to be always racing somewhere.  Racing down the highways, always seeing complications, always adding more to our days’ tasks.

Seldom do we cull, weed, prune, or eliminate the un-required  for the good of the whole.  We just add more.


Whispers on the Wind
Whispers on the Wind


“Kanso”  Simplicity  is about ….pruning.

Kanso –   Simplicity, plain, no frills, not fancy, nor decorative,  fresh clean simple, uncomplicated.


Stripping back to the wholesome necessities and discarding the rubbish. (This is just my very brief, version of interpretation!)

I often think of my artwork as a fruit tree;  lots of branches growing every which way, some have mold and spots, some grow the wrong way, some are strong and need to stay.  But I must prune my tree.  In order for it to be a beautiful strong tree full of fruit.

Those unnecessary branches…… have got to go.  Time to Simplify.  Time to Prune.

(And Yes,  I’ve done a bit of pruning orchard trees in the past!)


kanso simplified plum leaves, zen,
Kanso Leaves



What is it about Simplicity that draws me?

I love the uncomplicated, Purity of Essence that shines with clarity.  The essence and spirit are not fragmented nor scattered by the many hundreds of added little knick knacs that just happened to ‘be there’ and so had to be put in too.

I love the fresh, clean, spacious feel of Kanso.

I have room, I can Breathe!

There is no clutter.  There’s been no fiddling.  There is no muddiness.



Winters Glow, watercolor landscape, reflections,
Winter’s Glow



How do I cull,  decide what should be eliminated?

I ask myself What is the Purpose of this art image?  What is the Focal Point?  What Message do I want to try to convey?  And then, systematically,  look at everything to see how or if it is helping to achieve the goal. Or not.

Yes = stays.  No = removal.          That part is simple.




Wabi Sabi and Zen Art

When I first began my art journey I knew nothing of art basics let alone zen, wabi sabi and their elements.

Its only been after many years of painting,  nature walking,  observing and contemplating…. that I have realised my approach was leaning more towards a minimalist and impressionist style.

I also began to look closer at Tony Smibert’s painting approach around 2000.  Tony has a decidedly East/West fusion that fascinated me.

I love the way this style conveys and says much More,  with Less.


simplicity wabi sabi, zen, painting,
Night Gleaming



Conclusion of 7 Days of Zen  Series


All 7 Wabi Sabi elements have been explored.

Briefly, but if you have been enthused and inspired,  you could look for more in my Search box!   Or …of course,  our friend Google, is such a miracle worker, he can find anything!!



The 7 Days of Zen post series are:


Additionally,  for  watercolor enthusiastics –   the Watercolor Basic Tips  is really a great place to go and find a treasure trove of beginner watercolor information I have compiled together.

Everything from what materials to get, why and where; to color mixing methods; basic art techniques and more creative techniques are there as well.


7 days of Zen, seijaku,
7 Days of Zen I


Thank you for coming along with me in this long 7 part series,  I hope you have enjoyed the journey!





Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

43 thoughts on “Simply, The 7th Day of Zen

    1. yes, I can see how that could be! very fascinating 🙂 love the aerial views!! and when I was doing this, my mind was wandering to a place in Japan, Hokkanai Blue Pond that I was planning to go to… did not get there tho!

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  1. saying more with less in your art is such a talent that you have achieved and I greatly admire. it is so much harder than it looks! bravo for a wonderful series, and thank you for the ongoing inspiration and education! so appreciate!!!

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    1. Thank You Jodi!! I really appreciate your thoughts here 🙂
      I bit off more than I knew with a 7 set series! Struggled some to get it finished. next time… if, I think a 3 set series would be better!!!
      I am glad for your comments with each post. it would be good to know which of the 7 was the best, the most informative for you! Thanks again ((JJ))

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      1. such a difficult question as each and every one of your posts impacts me so deeply – truly! i just read one I seemed to have missed – and wow did it hit a nerve! Taming the Dragon of Perfectionism…. I long to achieve this wabi sabi zen – of being content with what I create. Oh Debi – thank you so much for all you do and all you share and all you give. If only you knew what a huge impact you have on me! I cannot express in words.

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      2. hi Jodi, thank you for getting back to me! i’m glad you gave me the feedback, I never know about ‘link backs’ SO I guess its good to do! Dragon…has alot of things to think about. lol. I’m happy to know that what i share has been useful to you Jodi!! I guess, being on the other side here – its hard for me to imagine, how 1 person could possible make much difference across the world. But, if even little bits assist, Great! Thank you so much (Jodi). I love hearing from you 🙂 happy anniversary


  2. This post really speaks to me. I know that is a cliche but it is true. Thank you for the amazing art and words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Debi,
    Thanks for such a great series!!!! I have enjoyed each article and your beautiful paintings with it! Somehow I felt all this before…but you expressed it so wonderfully and made it clear! A lifetime to practise…Cheers, Petra

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  4. What are your sources on Japanese and Zen aesthetics? Can you recommend one or several titles (books, web sites…)?

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    1. thanks! my goodness, there are sooo many!!
      top of my head! – sources and inspirations include…. Tony Smibert artist and author; The Way of the Brush, google enso, wabi sabi, zen…. I also went to the library
      and got books on Japanese design, gardens, bonsai, kimono, foods…. I kind of immersed myself into 100’s of sources to try to get a sense of The Feeling of it. “Does that make sense?” It was a more time consuming process, than just a quick summary for me. not everyones cup of tea!

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    2. I’ve been back over my notes & libraries! 4 books I might suggest for you: Wabi Sabi/Leonard Kohen Wabi Sabi/Diane Durston Living Wabi Sabi/Taro Gold The Way of the Brush/Fritz van Briessen I can’t actually say that any one of them is Best, as I’ve integrated and interpreted from a huge collection of sources. Including whatever sites online I happen across, Pinterest was useful as well.
      Thank You, for your enthused interest in the subject!! That is very thrilling to know you were inspired to get more information 🙂 cheers, Debi


  5. Maybe I should “kanso” my life, Debi. I loved to follow you to your wabi sabi trip and enjoyed every day of it, your explanations, your photos and of course your paintings. Thanks for sharing, cheers Mitza

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    1. thank you Mitza, I’m so glad for your ‘company’ on these adventures! your quips and comments make it seem like you aren’t that far off at all!! 🙂

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      1. Nowadays we feel so much closer to others because we can reach them so quickly by internet, emails etc. Just imagine in the old days we would write letters… Just took a look if my letter pigeon is fit, but unfortunately has to hatch 4 eggs.. lol

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  6. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey with you even though I caught it in mid stream. 🙂 I love perspective and your sensitivity to the world around you. The uncluttering of life is very important and yet a difficult one. I get a feeling you don’t paint to sell but paint for art sake and for the spirit. I admire that! I keep feeling I am trying to garner interest to my art in order to get it sold or validate my art. I want to remain true to self and that is have the art speak for itself. You inspire me so much.

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    1. thank you Margaret!! your style is original and fresh and Lovely!
      I do paint/create these days more for My own self than to ‘please others’ & I do sell, but less now in the city i live in currently than when in Sydney. life happens, some things I have to ‘let it go’ I’ve just begun putting work into online ‘shops’ now. A New approach for me.

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  7. Me too, Debi! I just finished one painting after your advice about tonal values and read this…..and realize I should do another version of it, simplified. Your work is such an inspiration. Truly. And you are too, you really have this way of being so gracious and helpful and just inspiring the socks off of all of us with your incredible pieces, each more amazing than the one before. I agree with so many others here. Thank you for sharing your work and your teaching but also your soul with us here. (((((((((((3D))))))))))))) ❤

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      1. thanks Laura! I’m laughing, you should see inside my mind…. project lists strung out all over! But, first is to master and conquer The Shops. still working on Society6 but I do have products there now. (more than 1.) !! thank you for your ongoing, EnCouraging inspirations LL 🙂

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    1. hi Antonia, thank you so much! I’m pleased that you related to the analogy of ‘pruning’ 🙂 At the time, it seems so ruthless! heartless. but you know you are doing the right thing ! Thank you once again – I really loved your kind words. Cheers, Debi

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  8. I have so enjoyed this series Debi. I love how you approached it, and your analogy of pruning a tree. I found it fascinating applying these principles to art…lots to think about as an approach to life too.

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    1. thank you so much for sharing that with me Vicki! Its a lovely thing to hear that someone has been inspired or influenced in a positive way from some bit of info I have passed along!
      Glad the ‘pruning’ analogy works! cheers, Debi 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a great series Debi; finally caught up. I’m going to print them all out and keep them in the studio to inspire me whenever the muse goes AWOL 🙂 Thanks as always…A

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