Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation” as Want to Read:
Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  18,023 ratings  ·  79 reviews
A Dutch artist offers his concept of seeing and drawing as a discipline by which the world may be rediscovered, a way of experiencing Zen.
Paperback, 160 pages
Published September 12th 1973 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1973)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  18,023 ratings  ·  79 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Zen of Seeing: Seeing/Drawing as Meditation
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, favorites
This book shows us how practicing an Art is a form of meditation. The author introduces us to Seeing/Drawing as an experiential approach to reality. Seeing as an exercise of mindfulness. As an act of letting experince wash over us without reacting to it with desire or aversion. A really good book i would recommend to anyone and not just an artist.
I had read one other book by Franck. His words always seem to settle me on creating art, not out of angst, but out of a place of wonder and praise, appreciation and real seeing. Seeing/Drawing is a term he came up with for a medatative excercise to trust the eye/mind/hand relationship and to cultivate it while letting go of other distractions. This work speaks much about movement and form, of study and of nature. A good read for any artist. Perhaps a bit too autobiographical attimes for my likin ...more
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art
I am not a Zen person. I am not a "spiritual" person. I was, however, a college drawing teacher for many years. This is an excellent book. It teaches you to pay attention and to truly see, which is half the battle in drawing. Even if you never pick up a pencil, this book will lead you to look at the world in a different way.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nf, art, 2015
3.5 stars. I don't know that this book will teach you how to see like an artist, but it explores the thought process behind seeing, and explores the idea of seeing like an artist/drawing as meditation. Having done both, I definitely feel the link between the two. Attention is so focused when drawing that it becomes as meditative as yoga, which I think of as meditation in motion.

If you're looking to refill your peace tank, I don't see how you can go wrong with yoga, meditation and/or drawing. Ju
Sherry (sethurner)
"We do a lot of looking: we look through lenses, telescopes, tubes... Our looking is perfected every day - but we see less and less."
I probably should have read The Zen of Seeing when it was written in 1973. It has the look of my old well-loved Vegetarian epicure, a sort of buff paper covered book with pen and ink sketches and hand writing. It's fast and easy, and the point is that if one draws the everyday objects in his or her world, the world slows down becomes more sane and recognizable. It'
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: good-nonfiction
It's a nifty book; and has a lot to say although there's not a lot of text--and also all the text which is present is written out calligraphy-style in longhand by the author. Impressive. Then of course, (since it is an art book) at least half of the volume is taken up with some very startling ink wash and line drawings. Every other page is visual; totally illustrating what the author is commenting on.

He has some great stuff to say about teaching art; sometimes quotes from zen masters and someti
Jackie Craven
Jan 26, 2013 rated it liked it
Zen of Seeing is not a how-to book. No drawing lessons here. Instead, pleasant drawings and inspirational messages (hand written) encourage the reader to let go of rules and inhibitions.
Stephanie Froebel
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2020
I truly enjoy books that equally provide content but also room to self evaluate and think deeper. This book does just that. Of course I cannot 100% agree with everything said in this book, but what did stick with me is dare I say it, life changing. I feel as if a cardboard box that has been taped and hidden in the back corner of my clutter actic of a brain has been found and burst open. The best way to describe that would be to say EnLiGhTeNeD. Frederick Franck provides a new way to understand a ...more
Kristine Brock
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've studied many of the how-to draw books out there on the market. And, I must say that this book is quite well written and easy to understand(it is actually handwritten and not typed). It teaches the reader to be more concerned with what he/she is observing than what they are putting down on paper. The author uses many examples to illustrate his points he is trying to get across. However, this book will not be of any aid to those who are searching for actual techniques and drills (such as step ...more
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Artists and other humans
Honestly, I only read various parts of this book in the back room, waiting to be called out and model for a life drawing class at Mendocino College. It redefines the basic concepts of drawing as I had known them all my life. I was so amazed that I went out and bought art supplies. Ok, that was about it, so far cratively over here, but my children really dug on all those supplies. This book is great tho, truly, for artists and other humans.
BTW, I didnt get to finish the book because I fainted do
Sep 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who don't think they can draw
Disclaimer: I am no trained artist or drawer or someone particularly skilled in Zen.
It was an okay book. I liked the concept of doing away with the trappings of "Art" and trying to get to the essence of drawing, but he really couches it in the writing style of someone who "smells their own farts" as my boyfriend put it. There's a lot of fluff here, that I think he was trying to use to get his point across, but it tends to come off as snooty or elitist in it's own way. I recommend reading the fou
Jul 07, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommended to Linden by: Patricia and John
Seems pretentious in many places, sneering at commercial or interpretive art. But also offers many insights into what we'd currently call "the zone", and tie-ins with self-actualisation or enlightenment. Near the end, the narrative slips away from its judging tone and offers a perspective on why photography is dismissed by the author, and in that slip a window is revealed into how anyone could use any medium to tap into this experience. But every creator will have a different call inside of them ...more
Mary Wilson
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Where has this book been? I started drawing and painting a few years back and have bought lots of books, but none like this! I don't think of myself as a Zen person or a mystic, but this book really speaks to me. The drawings are beautiful, but go beyond a superficial beauty. Even if one is not interested in drawing, there is lots in this book to recommend it. It is not just a book about seeing and drawing, it is a book about truly living.
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read excerpts of this book to my art students every semester. Years ago when I was Artist-In-Residence at a federal prison, an inmate brought me his copy of this to look at. He said he thought I would like it. He was SO right! Whether or not you draw, you will find this book full of insight. It's about drawing but more than that it's about SEEING, really SEEING, the world around us.
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
One of my favorites, but someone stole it from my collection - he rates it favorably as well.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Disappointing after planning to read it for a long time.
Marta Dominguez
Jun 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arte
I would have expected that the drawings supported this otherwise interesting theory of "seen" and followed the text, but it was not so. Drawings in the book are captionless. I was constantly flipping back and forth to the index where the images are indexed by countries and not by page. Not the best layout. The ideas about art as essence are in my opinion better developed in Betty Edward's Drawing on the Artist Within. My mind could not help but completting the thoughts in Franck's book with thos ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spiritual, art
I really love this author and his handwritten books about seeing/drawing. They invite the reader to slow down and to see the world with open eyes, to see human vulnerability in people, and to become one with the thing you're drawing. Several aspects of what he shared reminded me of how I felt while drawing as a child/teenager... becoming the tree, taking on the facial expression of the person you're drawing. This book certainly makes me want to draw more. This book and "the awakened eye" are two ...more
Mentions two of my favorite concepts:
Sunyata = Emptiness so full of potential that all emerges from it, all is reabsorbed in it.
Baso quote: "When tired I sleep, when hungry I eat." Rishi!
Fran Cosgrove
This was text listed for my Architecture course in the early 80's. One of my cherished books except that I don't know where to find it! A meandering meditation on the zen of seeing. A classic.
Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Moon Captain
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like a nice chat with a wise friend!
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, inspiring book that will awaken the artist in all of us.
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Moving images, yet so still.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was ok
A quick, good read for all writers. You will feel buoyed and validated in Goldberg’s hands.
Mosaul Mccarthy
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is definitely amazing.
Feb 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I love the idea of seeing and drawing as a meditation and I've read several positive reviews of this book. I wasn't impressed though. The handwritten script is hard to read so it felt like a struggle to absorb meaning from the text and numerous anecdotes and quotes.

It's rare for me to decide to sell one of my art books, but I'm eager to get this one off my shelf so I can make room for something else.
Mar 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Franck recommends drawing as a form of meditation. The book offers no advice on how to draw, other than to concentrate and practice, practice, practice. It does not advocate trying to be creative. The point is to concentrate fully on the object, person, or scene, and try to draw it accurately and experience its essence. Learn to truly "see" the object, not just look at it. This way of seeing is the opposite extreme from the momentary point-and-click experience of most travel photography. If you ...more
Feb 03, 2009 rated it liked it
I love the format of the book. The whole thing is hand-drawn and hand-lettered, and he is a very good artist with very cool handwriting. There were a few good ideas I took away from it.

As a Christian, one thing that gets on my nerves is when Eastern religions try to paint Jesus as a great teacher who had reached an advanced level of personal enlightenment. They pick and choose which of his teachings to admire, and paint him as a model Buddhist. Jesus had no such pretense. The author was guilty o
Cassandra Kay Silva
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
This books seemed a little to full of what could be taken as quotable type drawing dialogue. I don't know. I liked the idea of it, I liked what the author had to say about seeing beyond what is visible with your eyes but it just seemed a bit too much in the seeing through the mists of existence type stuff for me, although I do that at myself sometimes too.
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
seeing... 1 9 Jul 12, 2012 07:39AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Anatomy for the Artist
  • Anatomy for the Artist
  • The Power of Art
  • Figure Drawing for All It's Worth (How to draw and paint)
  • The Natural Way to Draw
  • Chopsticks
  • The Creative License: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are
  • Drawing Dynamic Hands
  • Keys to Drawing
  • Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters: 100 Great Drawings Analyzed, Figure Drawing Fundamentals Defined
  • Drawing the Head and Figure
  • The Artist's Complete Guide to Figure Drawing: A Contemporary Master Reveals the Secrets of Drawing the Human Form
  • Drawing on the Artist Within
  • The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
  • The Story of Art
  • Imaginative Realism: How to Paint What Doesn't Exist
  • Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist
  • Amphigorey (Amphigorey, #1)
See similar books…

News & Interviews

As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ...
22 likes · 10 comments
“This book is handwritten because, in its way, it is a love letter, and love letters should not be typeset by compositors or computers.” 1 likes
More quotes…