Friday, December 30, 2016

Peace for Everyone

My painting above my fireplace mantle, by Donna Watson

by Maya Angelou

---It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.--- MA

Flat lay and photo image by Donna Watson

In the corner of my great room, arranged and photo by Donna Watson

In a world full of destruction one must hold fast to whatever fragments of love are left,
for sometimes a mosaic can be more beautiful than an unbroken pattern. -- Dawn Powell

Flat lay and photo by Donna Watson

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time. -- Maya Angelou

In front of my fireplace mantle, hand painted and photo by Donna Watson

--- All I want for Christmas is Peace
All I want is war to cease
In the homes and on the street
Peace on earth and joy to greet --- Kenneth Snow

A Father Christmas, hand made by me, Donna Watson

Flat lay arranged and photo by Donna Watson

---Underneath my Christmas tree
Christmas morn I hope to see
Headlines blaring PEACE ON EARTH!
For men of naught and men of worth -- KS

Father Christmas (Rabbit) hand made by me, Donna Watson

--- I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light.  For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.-- 
Wendell Berry

Flat lay and photo arranged by Donna Watson

Wish and believe for PEACE to shine...

Flat lay arranged and photo by Donna Watson

I wish you and yours and everyone a peaceful wonderful new 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Defining Shibui

Shibui 1, collage by Donna Watson

Shibui (or Shibusa) is an enriched, subdued appearance or experience with economy of form, line and effort, producing a timeless tranquility.  Shibui objects appear to be simple overall but they include subtle details, such as textures, that balance simplicity with complexity.

The aspects of things that are most important
for us are hidden because of their 
simplicity and familiarity.
--- Ludwig Wittgenstein

Shibui 2, collage by Donna Watson

This balance of simplicity and complexity ensures that one does not tire of a shibui object but constantly finds new meanings and enriched beauty that cause its aesthetic value to grow over the years.  Shibui should not be confused with wabi sabi.  Shibui objects are not necessarily imperfect or 
asymmetrical, though they can include those qualities.

If one's life is simple, contentment has to come.  Simplicity is 
extremely important for happiness.
--- The Dalai Lama

Shibui 3, collage by Donna Watson

The colors of shibui are 'muddy' colors.  For example, in painting, gray is added to primary colors to 
create a silvery effect that ties the different colors together into a coordinated scheme.  Depending on how much gray is added, shibui colors range from pastels to dark.  Occasionally, a patch of brighter
color is added as a highlight.

Shibui 4, collage by Donna Watson

The seven elements of shibui are simplicity, implicity, modesty, silence, naturalness, everydayness and imperfection.  The simplicity is the expression of the essence of the elements.  Implicity allows depth of feeling to be visible through a spare surface.  The person of modesty exalts excellence by taking time to learn, watch, understand that merges into silence.  Naturalness conveys spontaneity in growth, unforced.  Everydayness raises ordinary things to a place of honor. Imperfection suggests
imagination at work, instead of a finished picture that provides all the answers.

small collage by Donna Watson, with various objects, image taken by Donna Watson

 Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the LIGHT gets in.
--- Leonard Cohen, RIP, 2016

Monday, September 5, 2016

The Healing Art of Nature

Nature Bound, small collage by Donna Watson

Recently, some Japanese researchers set out to discover whether something special... and clinically therapeutic... happens when people spend time in nature.  In the early 1980"s the Forest Agency of Japan advised people to take a stroll in the woods for better health.  This practice was called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku... and it was believed to lower stress.  Since then, a large body of evidence has shown that spending time in nature causes beneficial changes in the body.

I live on a cliff over looking a large body of water... and there are wooded trails around my home that lead down to the beach down below.  I also have created beautiful Japanese gardens that surround my home.

Studies have found that the quiet atmosphere, beautiful scenery, good smells and fresh, clean air in forests all contribute to lower stress, lower anxiety, and help symptoms like depression, heart disease and even cancer.

This is part of my moss garden...  there is a circular path around this moss garden where one can walk and meditate.  Plants and trees release compounds that protect them from pests; when humans inhale those compounds, it promotes healthy -- and measurable-- biological changes.

When I walk through my woods around my home, I love to forage and collect moss covered sticks,
fallen leaves, weathered wood, lichen...  and take to my greenhouse (Zen House).  This is where I also keep my fossil collection, rock collection, driftwood collection, bird nest collection....  and small bonsai collection.
Inside my Zen House

This is where I keep my moss covered sticks with a small bird's nest and ferns.  Research has shown that bringing bits of nature inside can also be very beneficial... even a plant in your room or just looking at trees through a window.

Here are some ferns with my crystal rock collection.

I planted bee balm in my herb garden this year, not realizing I would get these beautiful flowers.
Jizo, the protector of women, children and travelers

"The way we see the world shapes the way we treat it.  If a mountain is a deity, not a pile of ore; if a river is one of the veins of the land, not potential irrigation water; if a forest is a sacred grove, not timber; if other species are our biological kin, not resources; or if the planet is our mother, not an opportunity -- then we will treat each one with greater respect.  That is the challenge, to look at the world from a different perspective."  David Suzuki

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cold Wax Book

CADENCE, by Donna Watson, cold wax and oil paints with collage

There is a new book waiting to be published written by artists and authors Rebecca Crowell and Jerry McLaughlin.  The book is over 300 pages and features over 100 artists from around the world.  I will also have some paintings featured in the book.  The title of the book is COLD WAX MEDIUM:  Techniques, Concepts and Conversations.  The book is more than just a technical guide.  It also provides comprehensive information for those new to cold wax mixed with oil paints, as well as technical expertise and inspiration to those with experience with the medium.

Rebecca Crowell is an international known artist and workshop instructor working and teaching 
in cold wax medium with oil paints.  She has traveled all over the world teaching her workshops.
You can find her website here  and her wonderful blog is here .

Rebecca Crowell, cold wax and oil painting 

Jerry McLaughlin art works have been widely exhibited.  He focuses his major energies in painting,
teaching and writing.  You can find his website here. 

Jerry McLaughlin, cold wax and oil painting

Because the book became 300 pages long and in order to keep the quality high...  to be able to order a full print run there is a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.  Contributors will receive several perks, including workshops and copies of the book.  To contribute go to the website and find out how.  Once you go to this website you will immediately find yourself at Indigogo... with much more information.

This book features nearly 100 artists from around the world as well and Rebecca's and Jerry's knowledge and experience with the cold wax medium.  This book will strengthen your work and studio practice, suggest new directions and support thoughtful critique and inspiration.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Storytelling with Collage

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

     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: 

     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: 

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.)

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:

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  

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?