Saturday, April 25, 2015

Silent and Minimal

A New Dawn, cold wax and oil with collage, by Donna Watson

It all happens in silence.  The way
light happens in the eye.
Love unites bodies.
They go on
filling each other with silence.
-- Jamie Sabines, Pieces of Shadow

photo image by Donna Watson

"There are all kinds of silences and each of them means a different thing.  There is the silence that comes with the morning in the forest, and this is different from the silence of a sleeping city.  There is the silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same.  The the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, and silence of doubt. "   Beryl Markham, West with the Night

photo image by Donna Watson

"There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, for from anything that has answered to the need of man, for pleasure or for work.  This kind of silence can speak."  Beryl Markham, West with the Night

photo image by Donna Watson

"Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay.  Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows.  It is a soundless echo."
---  Beryl Markham, West with the Night

photo image by Donna Watson

Silence.  It has a sound, a fullness.
It's heavy with sigh of tree,
and space between breaths.
It's ripe with pause between birdsong
and crash of surf.
It's golden they say.
But no one tells us it is additive.
-- Angela Long

photo image by Donna Watson

"Silence is something more than just a pause; it is that enchanted place where space is cleared and time is stayed and the horizon itself expands."  Pico Iyer

photo image by Donna Watson

"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

photo image by Donna Watson

I go to nature be be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.
-- John Burroughs

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Zen Habits

Zen Poetry, collage, 10"x10", by Donna Watson


Breathing can transform your life.

So breathe.

Enjoy each moment of this life.

Be still.

If you are moving too fast, breathe.

Listen to the world around you.

Be at peace with being still.

Be still.
Just for a moment.

Boro Series 2, collage, 8"x8", by Donna Watson

Savor the stillness.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Wabi Sabi and Another Workshop

 STILLNESS, 10"x10" collage by Donna Watson

A 2 day course March 2-3 2015.  At the Sheraton Airport Hotel in Portland OR.   For more information about the workshop, supply list and how to register go to Art and Soul Retreat

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic... an appreciation of the beauty of things imperfect, incomplete and impermanent - rustic, earthy, simple, subdued, textured and organic.  It shows how the passage of time affects everything.  Boro embodies the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi - tattered rags used to describe patched clothing.  Instead of fabric we will learn how to hand paint Japanese washi papers.  On the second day, artists will learn simple compositions and design elements and principles based on the Zen tenets of balance and harmony.  Artists will recreate this "boro" effect by placing their own hand painted papers quilt like onto their own supports (paper, board, canvas) to create their own collages.

TO BREATHE,  8"x8" collage by Donna Watson

"I had a discussion with a great master in Japan, and we were talking about the various people who are working to translate the Zen books into English, and he said,  "That is a waste of time.  If you really understand Zen, you can use any book.  You could use the Bible.  You could use Alice in Wonderland.  You could use the dictionary, because the sound of the rain needs no translation."
--- Alan Watts, Whiskey River

TO WHISPER,  8"x8" collage by Donna Watson

"Wabi Sabi is a broken earthenware cup in contrast to a Ming vase, a branch of autumn leaves in contrast to a dozen roses, a lined and bent old woman in contrast to a model, a mature love as opposed to an infatuation, a bare wall in contrast to a wall hung with beautiful paintings.
As Leonard Koren says:  the closer things get to non-existence, the more exquisite and evocative they become.
--- Crispin Sartwell,  Six Names of Beauty

Friday, January 30, 2015


Dreams, cold wax and oil paints, by Donna Watson

"Every thing is raw material.  Everything is relevant.  Everything is usable.  Everything feeds into my  creativity.  But without proper preparation, I cannot see it, retain it, and use it."
--- Twyla Tharp

 image arranged by Donna Watson

"Do stuff.  Be clenched, curious.  Not waiting for inspiration's shove or society's kiss on your forehead.  Pay attention.  It's all about paying attention.  Attention if vitality.  It connects you with others.  It makes you eager.  Stay eager."
--- Susan Sontag

image arranged by Donna Watson

"I do believe in the everyday sort of magic --- the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like;  the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we're alone."
--- Charles de Lint

 image arranged by Donna Watson

"The beauty of a fragment is that it is still supports the hope of brilliant completeness."

 image arranged by Donna Watson

"Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them at triggers for experience."
--- Brian Eno

 image arranged by Donna Watson

"If we look carefully we can find a thread that links it all together--- links our dreams and the stories on the news, links the trivial, the mundane, the sensational.  There is a thread that is our collective destiny, and it is inside each of us as well as in the world around."
--- Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee 

 image arranged by Donna Watson

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 a doorway
into thanks, and a silence in in which
another voice may speak.
--- Mary Oliver

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A New Year and a Workshop

Collage by Donna Watson

UP COMING WORKSHOP:  Wabi Sabi and the Spirit of Collage
Location:  Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, Camano Island WA
When:  February 7-8, 2015,  9-4pm
Cost:  $290 for the 2 days, includes lunch

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic.  This Japanese aesthetic is a beauty of things imperfect, incomplete and impermanent... rustic, earthy, simple, textured, and organic.  We will use hand painted washi or Japanese papers to create wabi sabi collages.  On the first day I will demonstrate how to hand paint these papers and everyone will create their papers.  On the second day, artists will then learn simple compositions and design elements based on Zen tenets like balance and harmony.  Everyone will then use their own hand painted papers to create whatever type of collages they want.  Matzke Fine Art Gallery is a spacious open space surrounded by a beautiful sculpture park.  Camano Island has beautiful beaches to explore.

For more information on how to register, location, lodging, etc.  contact Karla Matzke:  at 360-387-2759 or email her at:  Also, check out her website: 

"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'

hand painted papers by Donna Watson

So a new year is here.  What is it about the concept of a "new year"?  Some of us set new goals, some of us set the same goals we had a year ago, some of us look back at the year that has passed and rejoice in the accomplishments, the new friends, the new learnings, the goals met.  Some of us look back and think "Where did the year go?"  How fast did it pass?  What did I really accomplish?  What will I do now?  What makes Dec. 31st different from Jan. 1st?

"Our purpose in life isn't to arrive at a destination where we find inspiration, just as the purpose of dancing isn't to end up at a particular spot on the floor.  The purpose of dancing -- and of life --
is to enjoy every moment and every step, regardless of where we are when the music ends."
-- Wayne Dyer

hand painted papers by Donna Watson

"Don't think about what can happen in a month.  Don't think about what can happen in a year.  Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be."
--- Eric Thomas

hand painted papers by Donna Watson

"It is in the thousands of days of trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are at our most engaged, alert and alive."
-- Dani Shapiro

hand painted papers by Donna Watson

"The timelessness in you is aware of life's timelessness and knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream."
-- Kahlil Gibran

"When you put your hand in the flowing stream, you touch the last that has gone before and the first of what is still to come."
-- Leonardo da Vinci

And here is my favorite Quote that I think I use every January of my new year:
"I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing your world.  You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're doing Something.
So that's my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself.  Make New Mistakes.  Make mistakes nobody's ever made before.  Don't freeze, don't stop, don't worry that it isn't good enough, or it isn't perfect,  whatever it is:  art, life, or love, or work or family life.
Whatever it is you're scared of doing, DO IT.
Make your mistakes, next year and forever."
--- Neil Gaimen

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Peace, Hope and Wonder in 2015

Father Christmas hand made by Donna Watson

"Don't think about what can happen in a month.  Don't think about what can happen in a year.  Just focus on the 24 hours in front of you and do what you can to get closer to where you want to be."
----  Eric Thomas

hand made wrapped boxes by Donna Watson.  a few of the boxes were decorated by my good friend Leslie Avon Miller

"A tiny bud of a smile on your lips nourishes awareness and calms you.  It returns you to the peace you had lost.  A smile is the most basic kind of peace work."  -- Thich Nhat Hahn

more hand made boxes with naturals, see the hand made box at top right by Leslie Avon Miller

a bare branch tree in the corner with icicles and red cardinal birds

"Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world."  --- Thich Nhat Hanh

hand painted balls in front of fire place

"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly.  In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is the burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders."  -- Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother

hand made birch wrapped candle holder

"The timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness and knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream." -- Kahlil Gibran

"To be creative means to be in love with life.  You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it."  -- Osho

"It is in the thousands of days, trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are at our most engaged, alert, and alive."  -- Dani Shapiro

New additions this Christmas, a bird skull Father Christmas with a Rabbit Father Christmas both hand made by
Donna Watson

"I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can."  Neil Gaiman


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'.