(Video link here.) Artist John Franzen uses an intriguing practices to make his drawings composed of many parallel lines: Each line, one breath.  That is, he draws a line while taking one breath. And then he copies that line right next to it, with another breath. As the lines accrue, unexpected patterns emerge making the drawings surprisingly varied.

John Franzen

I concentrate on breathing and focus on drawing the successor. Again and once more. Again and again. In the process of drawing, my lines evolve into a kind of logarithmic pattern and layering, steered merely by aberrances and anomalies of human failure in contrast to the precision of a machine.”

…Through conscious inhalation and exhalation, the drawing is gradually created. In this process, every inhalation triggers inspiration, which is in itself life. The lines thus carry the energy of the breath, capturing it in visible images, binding it into matter.


John Franzen

…Again and once more. Again and again.

The variegation of the lines reminded us of Alissia Melka-Teichroew’s sensational ball point pen wall paper

Lisa Klappe

Lisa Klappe


We wondered what would happen if we tried Franzen’s method. Would it be helpful or illuminating? Would we find this lovely idea to be true?

every inhalation triggers inspiration

We did find that every inhalation triggers inspiration.  But we got bored with Franzen’s straight-line constraints pretty quickly, and our mischievous brain took over. Let’s DRIVE this car-of-pen in more interesting ways! So with each breath, we found ourselves zig-zagging around the page:

Sally Schneider

We wanted to see where the lines took us…

Sally Schneider

…In fact, despite our lack of discipline, one line one breath proved to be a pleasingly meditative/dreamy/preparative practice. As Improvised Life editorial assistant Mira Keras discovered a while ago, drawing  spiraling lines is an excellent way to calm and focus her mind

Sally Schneider



every inhalation triggers inspiration…

…Again and once more. Again and again…


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2 replies on “every inhalation triggers inspiration (John Franzen)

  1. Wow! I love even the idea. I have recently started practicing meditation – what a wonderful way to proceed when I’m wanting movement rather than stillness. Thank you so much for posting this.

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