Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Storytelling with Collage

Enso, collage by Donna Watson, hand painted Japanese washi papers

NOTE:  UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:  
    
     July 9-10:  2 Day workshop:  Wabi Sabi and the Spirit of Collage in Mendocino CA at the Mendocino Art Center.  For more information go to:

     July 25-27:  3 Day workshop:  Personal Expression:  A Design Approach to Mixed Media at the Peninsula School of Art in Fish Creek, Wisconsin.  For more information go to:
www.peninsulaschoolofart.org/adult-workshops.html 

     August 8-9:  2 day workshop:  Wabi Sabi and the Spirit of Collage in Phoenix Arizona at the Art Unraveled venue.  For more information go to:  www.artunraveled.com 

BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT:  I have had the honor of an invitation to be included in the book:  (The collage above ENSO is the collage included in the book.)

STORYTELLING WITH COLLAGE 
by Roxanne Evans Stout


Techniques for Layering COLOR & TEXTURE

Every collage has a story to tell.  Tell your story in paper, fabric, and ephemera collected from your world.  This book written by Roxanne will demonstrate and inspire all of us to capture our thoughts, memories and daydreams.  She showcases tools and supplies needed to express your memories.
The book is filled with collage challenges and suggestions.  It is also filled with a number of other collage artists, their thoughts and collages, as well as Roxanne's own work.  In other words there are lots of images to look at and get inspired.  For more information about Roxanne and her book go to her blog here.  


These are some of my collage papers and inspirations for my collages.  Old Japanese books.... old letters from the Kyoto flea markets.


Create beauty.
Value Imperfection.
Live deeply.



Monday, June 6, 2016

Wabi Sabi Hare

Collage by Donna Watson

Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic of finding beauty in imperfection,  incompleteness and impermanence.  It is a beauty of things modest and humble.  It is a beauty of things rustic, simple, organic, worn, weathered... things affected by the passage of time.  It is also about the cycle of life and our connection to nature.  It is an appreciation of nature and all life.  This is how I view the rabbit.  A quiet, still, silent, gentle, harmless (unless you have a vegetable garden) creature.


THE HARE WITH THE AMBER EYES is written by Edmund De Waal, a world famous ceramist working in Porcelain.  He inherited a collection of 264 tiny netsuke.  He wanted to know and understand who had collected them and how they had survived World War II.  The book is a moving 
memoir and detective story as he discovers the history of the netsuke and his family over 5 generations.  The writing is artful, detailed, exquisite... beautifully written memoir... and deeply moving.  He writes not just about the netsuke, but about the art and culture in each generation.

Here is the famous netsuke, THE HARE WITH THE AMBER EYES
Netsuke are miniature sculptures first created in 17th century Japan to serve a practical purpose.
Robes, like kimono, had no pockets.  Men who wore them needed a place to store their belongings like money, medicine, or pipes.  They used a container (sagemono) hung by cords from the robe's sashes (obi).  This box (inro) was held shut by ojime, small carved objects or animals.  The fastener that secured the chord at the top of the sash was a carved, button like toggle called netsuke.


Over time, Netsuke evolved from being utilitarian into objects of great artistic merit and superb craftmanship, highly respected and collected.

It is the quieter side of life that inspires me, with the feelings that come with my connection to the natural world.  My love of rabbits is part of my connection to nature.

This is a rabbit temple in the heart of Kyoto.  I was very happy to find it.

Artist Unknown

Artist W. Tucker,  RABBIT GIRL,  website:  www.wtucker-art.com

As you see above, artists today depict rabbits and hares in many mediums and forms.  

photo image by Donna Watson

The above image includes one of my ceramic rabbits, and 2 mail art envelopes I created.

photo image by Donna Watson

photo image by Donna Watson

Mono no aware refers to a feeling of life's fragility, and relates to seeing beauty in this fragile, impermanent nature, and even grasping that without permanence, genuine beauty can not exist.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Creativity and Fear

Cold wax and oil paints with collage bundle, 2016, Donna Watson

NOTE:  2 Day Workshop - Boro/Wabi sabi:  The Japanese Spirit of Collage.  May 28-29, 2016 in Minneapolis, MN.  For more information on the workshop, supply list, venue and how to register go to www.artandsoulretreat.com  

Sometimes I have a hard time "beginning"... starting something new.   The books on creativity basically say... just get started..  do "it".  If you can release yourself from the anxiety that might be associated with the word creativity, you'll see, in fact, that you are an enormously creative person.

That sounds like great advice but how do you do it?  

collage, 2016, by Donna Watson

What's your personal definition of creativity?

"Starting with nothing and ending up with something.  Interpreting something you saw or experienced and processing it so it comes out different than how it went in."  punk rocker
Henry Rollins

Fear and creativity go hand and hand on the same road trip.  Work hard and stay focused and do not allow fear to have a vote or to drive.

BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert ( author of Pray, Eat, Love)

I have been reading BIG MAGIC...  basically it is about getting started... just begin... leave fear in the dust.  It is easy to read, and easy to say... but hard once I get in to the studio.  

"Its all just an instinct and an experiment and a mystery, so begin....  Begin anywhere.  Preferably right now.  And if greatness should ever by accident stumble upon you, let it catch you hard at work."
Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic.

Collage, 2016, by Donna Watson

Always this energy smoulders inside
When it remains unlit
The body fills with dense smoke.----  David Whyte

So, what is your definition of creativity?





Thursday, January 14, 2016

Another New Year....

"Red Enso" collage by Donna Watson

Announcement of 2 March workshops:

      March 5-6:  WABI SABI AND THE SPIRIT OF COLLAGE:  Portland OR at the
      Sheraton Airport Hotel.  For more information on workshop, location, supply list,
      cost, and registration go to www.artandsoulretreat.com  

      March 19-20:  ZEN MEMORY BOOK (will make a folded accordion book on any theme
       such as memories, family, garden, pets, travel etc).  Matzke Fine Art Gallery, Camano 
       Island, WA.  Cost will include lunch.  For more information on location, cost, workshop,
       and registration contact Karla Matzke, 360-387-2759, matzke@camano.net, website:

Folded book on Zen Gardens by Donna Watson

A NEW YEAR... Time to take stock of the past year and move forward... begin a new chapter...
be open to new possibilities... start over... learn from the past year and move on...

self portrait, journal page, by Donna Watson

Every January, I write down my goals for the new year.  I look at my list from last year and see what goals I met, and what goals I need to extend or continue to work on.  I am always a little disappointed in myself when I see what I accomplished and what I did not finish... and the list of what I did not finish always seems to be the longer list.

photo image by Donna Watson

And every year I go through the same goal setting list... making a new list... often with the same goals written down that were on last year's list.  And every year I am disappointed in myself.  So, this year,
I decided NOT to write another list of goals.

hand made scrolls by Donna Watson

Instead, I decided to make a different sort of list.  Not of goals to be met... or not met.  But to go inside myself more... more introspective and not set myself up for another year of disappointment when I do not meet all my goals....

photo image by Donna Watson

So here is my first one:  TO BECOME MORE MINDFUL.   To appreciate the small things around me, and to be more aware of moments -- live in the present moments.

photo image by Donna Watson

Here is another one:  GRACE...  to respond with more grace when I am disappointed or when a situation or person confronts me with a challenge.

And to be more POSITIVE... I am often accused of seeing "the glass half empty".  

Want the change.  Be inspired by the flame
Where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed,
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and it easily shattered.

Pour yourself like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and with ending, begins.
..... Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, Part Two, XII

photo image of rabbit temple in Kyoto Japan, by Donna Watson




Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Color of Distance and Memory

TIDE, by Donna Watson, cold wax and oil painting with collage

Blue has always been used a a symbol of distance... especially for artists.  No matter how much we try to reach that 'blue' distance, we can never reach it... as we will always see the distant objects showing up as blue.  The blue we see is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in distance between you and the mountains, you and the sky, you and the endless distance.

Rebecca Solnit, A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST

Rebecca Solnit, the author, examines the color blue and its relationships to distance, desire and memory in A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST.  

"The world is blue at its edges and in its depths.  This blue is the light that got lost.  Light at the blue end of the spectrum does not travel the whole distance from the sun to us.  It disperses among the molecules of the air, it scatters in the water.  Water is colorless, shallow water appears to be the color of whatever lies underneath it, but deep water is full of this scattered light, the purer the water the deeper blue.  The sky is blue for the same reason, but the blue at the horizon, the blue of the land that seems to be dissolving into the sky, is a deeper, dreamier, melancholy blue, the blue at the farthest reaches of the places we see for miles, the blue of distance."  Rebecca Solnit,  A FIELD GUIDE TO GETTING LOST

TIDE, by Donna Watson,  cold wax and oil painting with collage

"This light that does not touch us, does not travel the whole distance, the light that gets lost, gives us the beauty of the world, so much of which is in the color blue."  Rebecca Solnit

SUNLIT PATH, by Donna Watson, cold wax and oil with collage

"Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world."  RS

ECHOES 3, by Donna Watson, collage

Memory can be just as elusive as distance.  Sometimes gaining and losing are connected like memories.  Remember that some light does not make it all the way through the atmosphere, but scatters.

MEMOIR, by Donna Watson, cold wax and oil painting with collage

"The blue of distance comes with time, with the discovery of melancholy, of loss, the texture of longing, the complexity of the terrain we traverse, then perhaps maturity brings with it not...
abstraction, but an aesthetic sense that partially redeems the losses time brings, and finds beauty in the faraway."  Rebecca Solnit

EMERGENCE by Donna Watson, cold wax and oil painting with collage

It was November - the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.  --- L.M. Montgomery

Some of the  above excerpts came from BRAINPICKINGS by Maria Popova, at 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Art of Walking

"Memory Found"  collage, 8"x8", by Donna Watson   SOLD

WANDERLUST by Rebecca Solnit

Walking is embodied presence in motion, presence at once with ourselves and with the world, inner and outer -- an active presence of body and mind...  from Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.
Rebecca Solnit speaks to this beautifully:
     "Walking, ideally is a state in which the mind, the body, and the world are aligned, as though they were three characters finally in conversation together, three notes suddenly making a chord.  Walking allows us to be in our bodies and in the world without being made busy by them.  It leaves us free to think without being wholly lost in our thoughts."  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust

This is a path near my home... it leads to the beach below my home on the cliff.
photo by Donna Watson

The rhythm of walking generates a kind of rhythm of thinking, and the passage through a landscape echoes or stimulates the passage through a series of thoughts.  Maria Popova, Brain Pickings

This is a continuation of the path near my home.  Photo by Donna Watson

WALKING by Henry David Thoreau

Thoreau believed that 'sauntering" with no real destination in mind, was the best way to walk.
He wrote that the idea of sauntering should be approached with a mindset of presence rather than productivity.   "What business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods?"  Thoreau

Here we are taking a walk with our 6 month old puppy, Kirin.

"Most of the time walking is merely practical, the unconsidered locomotive means between two sites.  To make walking into an investigation, a ritual, a meditation, is a special subset of walking....  Here this history begins to become part of the history of the imagination and the culture, of what kind of pleasure, freedom, and meaning are pursued at different times by different kinds of walks and walkers."  Rebecca Solnit, Wanderlust

One of the paths over water, in a temple in Kyoto Japan
photo by Donna Watson

A street for walking through an older traditional part of Kyoto
photo by Donna Watson

"Walking itself is the intentional act closest to the unwilled rhythms of the body, to breathing and the beating of the heart.  It strikes a delicate balance between working and idling, being and doing.  It is a bodily labor that produces nothing but thoughts, experiences, arrivals."  Rebecca Solnit

Path by Maria Popova

Check out Brain Pickings by Maria Popova.  She publishes a weekly synopsis of books... musings... on wide ranging topics including love, grace, human spirit, art, literature, society, cultures, creativity, and on and on... she fills her musings with plenty of links and quotes...  she writes with authority as she links one book to another book, or idea or thought.  You can sign up to receive her newsletter via email.... or at Flipboard...  which I also highly recommend.   www.brainpickings.org

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

How to be a Poet

Small collage by Donna Watson

NOTE:  ANOTHER WORKSHOP:  Oct. 1-2, 2015,  A ZEN GARDEN with Folded Books.
A 2 day workshop in Virginia Beach, VA.  For more information on how to register, supply list, location, go to website:  www.artandsoulretreat.com  
Oct. 3-4, 2015, BORO/WABI SABI:  The Spirit of Collage.  A 2 day workshop in Virginia Beach, VA.  For more information go to website:  www.artandsoulretreat.com  

Small collage by Donna Watson

I am always amazed when I meet a visual artist who paints, or uses collage, or does photography and can also write well...  and those who write poetry are even more impressive to me.  It is like they have been doubly gifted.  I love words and words that convey visual imagery are even more beautiful.
Several years ago I watched a Korean movie (with subtitles) titled POETRY.  It was about an older woman who took a class on how to write poetry and she struggled to find any poetry or words to write.  And she looked outwards, like sitting under a plum tree, to find inspiration... but none ever came.  The ending of the movie is beautiful, and has stayed with me all these years and I highly recommend the movie.  Perhaps this poem will help too:

HOW TO BE A POET

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down.  Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill --- more of each
than you have --- inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time 
to eternity.  Any readers 
who like your poems,
doubt their judgement.

A smalll collage by Donna Watson

...  Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
--- Wendell Berry

A small collage by Donna Watson