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  

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  

      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,, 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, 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.

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:  
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:  

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:


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

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Workshop Changes and a Poem

Ebb, cold wax and oil paints with collage and shell, by Donna Watson

NOTE:  Workshop dates changed!  The September 4 day workshop has been changed to a 3 day workshop in October - Oct. 16, 17, 18th, 2015.  The workshop is still PERSONAL EXPRESSION:  A Design Approach.  The location is still on Camano Island, WA.  The lower cost still includes morning snacks, and lunch every day.  For more information contact Karla Matzke at 360-387-2759 or email at:  

Tide, cold wax and oil paints with collage and shell, by Donna Watson

This poem is supposedly written by 14 year old Jordan Nichols, and 8th grader.  Read it from the top to bottom and then read it from the bottom up for a wonderful surprise.

Our generation will be known for nothing.
Never will anybody say,
We were the peak of mankind.
That is wrong, the truth is 
Our generation was a failure.
Thinking that
We actually succeeded 
Is a waste.  And we know
Living only for money and power
Is the way to go.
Being loving, respectful, and kind
Is a dumb thing to do.
Forgetting about that time,
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Changing our world for the better
Is something we never did.
Giving up
Was how we handled our problems.
Working hard
Was a joke.
We knew that 
People thought we couldn't come back
That might be true,
Unless we turn things around.
(Read from bottom to top now)

Friday, July 3, 2015

The One Taste of Truth

 MEMOIR,  Donna Watson,  cold wax, oil paints, collage, scroll

INSTRUCTOR:  Donna Watson.  At Matzke Fine Art Gallery, on beautiful Camano Island, WA.
For more information contact Karla Matzke at: OR 360-387-2759.
(All mediums and all styles of painting are welcome as this workshop delves into each unique, creative participant as they find their way along their artistic journey.)

The tea ceremony incorporates the mindfulness, quiet and simplicity required for Zen study and meditation.   Most important in both is the awareness that each and every moment in unique, and is to be valued and savored.  

Over the centuries that both Zen and Tea evolved, literature developed in the forms of poems, phrases, fragments of Zen stories, and concepts.

THE BOOK OF TEA,  collage by Donna Watson

Displayed on hanging scrolls in the alcove (tokonoma)  of temples, homes or tea rooms, these phrases or fragments, or quotes provided contemplation that would encourage the right feeling for the drinking of tea or meditation.

TOKONOMA or small alcove, image source:  

There are hundreds of these phrases or ichigyomomo - in Japanese - written on these scrolls.
They allow free and easy wandering among the ideas and emotions that the words on the scrolls suggest.  When one is drinking tea, one can read the phrases or poems, and contemplate the meanings of the words on the scroll.

Small scrolls created by Donna Watson

One of the most famous tea masters, Sen no Rikyu, called the scroll the most important implement of Tea.

Seth Apter,  wonderful blog here.

It is quiet and tranquil, empty and at rest.
It stands on its own, and cannot be altered;
Manifests itself in all things, and is never idle.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching, about the ungraspable

OLD SCROLL,  by Donna Watson,  cold wax, oil paints, collage, scroll

The body is like a bodhi tree;
The mind is like a standing mirror.
Always try to wipe it clean;
Do not let it gather dust.

ANCIENT SCROLL - detail,  by Donna Watson, acrylic, collage, stone

MU:  "emptiness" is no doubt the best-known character in Zen literature and calligraphy and found on many scrolls.  When one empties one mind while drinking tea or meditating, one's mind opens up to new ideas, and possibilities which can lead to creativity.