Saturday, November 22, 2014

When Empty becomes Full

Zen Garden, Folded accordion book, by Donna Watson


Here are some of the books I have on Zen and Wabi-sabi.  Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.  Actually, Wabi-sabi also encompasses life, nature and the cycles of life and death, the changing seasons, and feelings.


My most recent book acquisition is Wabi Inspirations by Axel Vervoordt.  Wabi is a Japanese concept
that derives from simplicity and authenticity.  It values the beauty in imperfection.  Elegance in natural materials, timelessness within tradition:  these are the principles that define Axel Vervoordt's personal take on the concept.  In this book, he reveals the interiors that are inspired by Wabi.  He shows how to create calm, peaceful spaces in which beauty is distilled to its purest form.  Photos are by Laziz Hamani and all the images in this blog post come from the book.


Within this void we can explore the very essence of time itself:  the pregnant possibility of everything.

"Every something is an echo of nothing."  John Cage


"Leaving something incomplete makes it interesting and gives one the feeling that there is room for growth."  Yoshida Kenko, (1283-1350), Essays in Idleness 


The intrinsic beauty found in peeling paint, bare concrete, exposed plaster, rusty metal pillars, battered floors, and weathered stone reveres the beauty of imperfections and honors the passage of time.  Patinas and textures in their primal state become even more expressive.


"The emptiness is the space where the essential unfolds and then it becomes full/empty."
Jef Veheyen


The spirit of Wabi deepens the profound experience of this immense space, and provides an insight that leads to an inner sense of peace.  The vast emptiness resounds with silence.


"I am seeking to represent the void.  Humanity, in accepting the idea of infinity, has already accepted the idea of Nothingness."  Lucio Fontana, Self Portrait, 1969


The untouched and the unrestored has a character and warmth that is one of the underlying concepts of Wabi.  The result of benign neglect works its subtle magic.

This image is from the blog Mundo Japon

"Ichi-go, ichi- e" was first used by Sen Riikyu, the monk who first created the traditional Wabi tea ceremony.  It translates to 'meeting with people' and today is used to express
'for this time only' or 'this is the moment'.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Long Journey

Haven, assemblage by Donna Watson  SOLD

Autumn is a paradox:  Summer is trying to linger as growing cycles for many living plants are coming to an end.  The Japanese have a word for this - aware - which means "beauty tinged with sadness."  

Eternal Truth, Assemblage by Donna Watson  

There is a crisp edge of coolness in the air as the light of summer becomes grayer and rain appears in the distance.  Even on the sunny days there is a coolness in the air softly singing.

Narrative, Assemblage by Donna Watson

As the silence of autumn creeped up on my lingering summer lights,  I worked on 5 assemblages.
I found this silence calming as I worked in my studio.

Reverie, Assemblage by Donna Watson   SOLD

The push and pull.  What do I add here?  Put there?  It takes time with so many choices, so many small decisions.  How do I translate what I am thinking... feeling.. into the small bundles and compartments?

Closeup, of Eternal Truth, assemblage by Donna Watson

The boat shape represents the long journey.  The short journey is from summer to autumn.  The long journey is a mystery, couched in the cycle of life.   

"Only nothingness can hold everything.  Something can never hold everything.  Be in the moment."

Closeup of Assemblage, by Donna Watson

"All through autumn we hear a double voice:  one says everything is ripe; the other says everything is dying.  The paradox is exquisite."  Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces


"Rain on roof outside window, gray light, deep covers and warm blankets.  Rain and nip of autumn in the air; nostalgia, itch to work better and bigger.  That crisp edge of autumn."
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, 26 August 1956 Paris


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

lingering light Part 2



Clarity, cold wax and oil painting by Donna Watson

I decided to divide up my blog posts on my gardens and green house into 3 parts.  My last blog post showed images of my green house or Zen House as I like to call it.  These images here are outside around the the Zen House.

Pots of plants, including a bonsai gingko and a weeping Japanese maple tree near my front porch.

"Silence is essential for deep transformation.  It allows the practice of conscious breathing to become 
deep and effective.  Like still water that reflects things as they are, the calming silence helps us to 
see things more clearly; to be in deeper contact with ourselves and those around us."  
                                                                 -----  Thich Nhat Hanh

Small pond with gold fish


"I walk into a poem and walk out someone else."  Nayyirah Waheed

Large stone water basin

Bamboo water feature with stone lantern and laughing Buddha with Japanese maples and
deer ferns

"The only people who ever get anyplace interesting are the people who get lost."  
Henry David Thoreau

Large water basin with stone Carp, stone temple, stone rabbit with Japanese maple and gingko bush

Large sitting Buddha, natural stone temple, moss garden

Near my Meditation Path,  with tall Honeysuckle bush

Shade garden with bird bath, shade plants, ferns, wisteria on Torii Gate

Wisteria blooming in August

Sit and be still
until in the time 
of no rain you hear
beneath the dry wind's 
commotion in the trees
the sound of flowing
water among the rocks,
a stream unheard before,
and you are where
breathing is a prayer.
Wendell Berry




Wednesday, September 10, 2014

lingering summer light pt. 1

Reflections, cold wax and oil paints, Donna Watson

September... a pause for summer to say an awkward and lingering good-by and for autumn, sitting on a hill top, a jug of cider in one hand and a bunch of wild purple asters in the other, waiting to say hello.  (NYTimes)  As summer comes to an end, it is that time of year for me to post images of my Zen gardens and my Zen greenhouse.  I have decided to divide my images into 3 posts because I have so many to share.  This first post is all about my Zen house... what I call my outdoor decor.

Torii gate entrance to my Zen House

"...to walk without destination and to see only to see..." 
--- Uta Barth

Follow the stone path

"Your sacred space is where you find yourself again and again."
--- Joseph Campbell

Some of my bonsai in front of my Zen House

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes"
--- Marcel Proust

One of the shelves inside my Zen House

"May my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography 
that invites me to new frontiers,
to break the dead shell of yesterdays, 
to risk being disturbed and changed."
---John O'Donohue, from a morning offer

A new birdcage, inside is a Japanese kokedama or moss ball with a Rabbit Fern

"Landscape consists in the multiple, overlapping intricacies and forms that exist in a given space at a moment in time."  Annie Dillard, Pilgrims at Tinker Creek

Kokedama or Japanese moss ball with Rabbit Fern

"Landscape is the texture of intricacy, and texture is my present subject... What do I make of all this texture?"  Annie Dillard

Another Kokedama, or moss ball with large wooden paddle

"The texture of the world, its filigree and scrollwork, means that there is the possibility for beauty here, a beauty as inexhaustible in its complexity, which opens to my knock, which answers in me a call I do not remember calling, and which trains me to the wild and extravagant nature of the spirit I seek."  Annie Dillard, Pilgrims at Tinker Creek

This is a Rose de Jericho, a type of desert moss,  which dries up into a tight ball without water.  When water is added, it will open up and burst into life, until the water dries up again.  

A water feature inside my Zen House

A corner of the Zen House

A round beach rock with a bee who passed away and has been sitting on this rock all summer

It doesn't have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just 
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don't try
to make them elaborate, this isn't 
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which 
another voice may speak.  
Mary Oliver










Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Journeys, New Frontiers

Landmark,  cold wax and oil painting by Donna Watson

NOTE:  My 4 day workshop still has some openings.  It is coming up soon - Sept. 15-18, 2014.
It is titled PERSONAL EXPRESSION:  A Design Approach.  The emphasis is on composition, elements and principles, personal content and expression.   You will find your strengths and figure out how to best use them to make your works more unique and recognizable and successful whatever your goals are.  The workshop location is on beautiful Whidbey Island at Coupeville WA.  Go to this website for the Pacific Northwest Art School here.  Look under the category for Mixed Media.

Histories, cold wax and oil painting by Donna Watson

NOTE:  My 2 day workshop in Virginia Beach, VA has 3 openings left.  It is also coming up soon -
October 4-5, 2014.  It is titled BORO/WABI SABI:  The Japanese Spirit of Collage.  You will learn how to hand paint your own rice papers to create your collage papers and then you will learn some composition, and design elements and principles to help you create your collages.  Go to this website for Art and Soul to find out how to register here.  Be sure to look for the Virginia Beach 2014 workshops.

Zen 7, collage using hand painted rice papers by Donna Watson

Art is a journey into the most unknown thing of all - oneself.  Nobody knows his own frontiers...
I don't even think I'd ever want to take a road if I knew where it led.
Louis Kahan

May my mind come alive today
to the invisible geography
that invites me to new frontiers,
to break the dead shell of yesterdays,
to risk being disturbed and changed.
John O' Donohue, from "a morning offering"




Friday, July 18, 2014

Narratives of Place

Pieces of Memory, cold wax, oil paints, collage, by Donna Watson

Words begin as description.  They are prismatic, vehicles of hidden, deeper shades of thought.  You can hold them up at different angles until the light bursts through in an unexpected color.
Susan Brind Morrow, THE NAME OF THINGS

Life Energy, cold wax, oil paints, collage by Donna Watson

We establish a sense of place from its vivid sensory impressions or influence.  Places have mood and magic, an atmosphere of their own.  There are different ways of conceptualizing and speaking about the way we connect to the spirit and texture of a place.  We find expression and authenticity of place through sensory cues, crystallized images, and from reasons steeped in memory and meaning.


In 1973, Peter Matthiessen traveled high into the remote mountains of Nepal to study the Himalayan blue sheep and possibly glimpse the rare and beautiful snow leopard.  Matthiessen was a student of Zen Buddhism and was also on a spiritual quest.  His beautiful writing describes the "moments' along his journey... the sky, the snow, the birds, the butterflies, the animals, the people.  I have never read such beautiful descriptive words, with such a deepening Buddhist understanding of reality, suffering, impermanence and beauty.  
"The fire-colored dragonflies in the early autumn air, the bent backs in bright reds and yellows, the gleam on the black cattle and grain stubble, the fresh green of the paddies and the sparkling river---over everything lies an immortal light, like transparent silver."  PM

Woodcut print by Gary Groves

Gary Groves is a woodcut artist.  He grew up in the Northwest and his work is inspired by the stark landscapes of rock, light and shadow.   He has a BFA in sculpture, apprenticed as a potter and lived in Japan.  It is obvious Zen tenets have influenced his work, and he has captured the rhythms and textures of the places he has experienced.  "I want my work to talk about this connection I have established  to try and draw attention to the significance and history of the objects I choose to include in my images."  Gary Groves

Woodcut print by Gary Groves

"I look for some aspect of my subjects, some special quality that arouses me, that I can point out and that may not be readably recognizable... that can make an ordinary object significant for myself and hopefully for the viewers."  Gary Groves

Palouse Falls, woodcut print by Gary Groves

"My medium of woodcut prints is idea for rendering the textures that help to convey my intentions.
The direct and straightforward technique of carving the blocks is something I respond to personally."
You can find out more about Gary Groves and his works at Augen Gallery here.  

Woodcut print by Gary Groves

Here the immensity, the emptiness, feeds the spirit, and leaves it with no hunger for anything but more space, more light---as if one had suddenly glimpsed the largeness, the emptiness of one's own soul, and come to terms with it, glorying at last in its open freedom.
David Malouf, An Imaginary Life

Wood cut print by Gary Groves