Why Are Zen Paintings Done In Ink?

Zen Painting

Zen Philosophy

Zen paintings are an example of the philosophy that says the essence of Zen teaching cannot be put into written or spoken words.

True Beauty

Multiple colors aren’t used in Zen painting – only the single hue of the ink. This is because it’s believed that true beauty cannot be expressed through colors and that colors are an imperfect expression of the ineffability of beauty. Therefore, colors are avoided.

What You See

Depending on the viewer, the ink takes on various tints and layers. It is said that Zen painting uses ink to express all five colors – green, blue, yellow, purple, and red. An infinite range of colors can be found within ink’s hue. What you can see is not all there is.

The Art of Simple Living
The Art of Simple Living

Shunmyo Masuno

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