Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peace. Hope. Joy. Love. 2014

paper balls, image by Donna Watson

image by Donna Watson

Mini wrapped boxes under bare branch tree, image by
Donna Watson

Mini wrapped boxes with basket of naturals
by Donna Watson

my 10 foot tree decorated with Santas and naturals
by Donna Watson

Father Christmas, by Donna Watson

Centerpiece on dining table, by Donna Watson

Father Christmas with reindeer

another centerpiece with small santa

3 small candles decorated with birch and naturals
by Donna Watson

Another Father Christmas, by Donna Watson
(a bit bug eyed I think!)

On my fireplace mantel, by Donna Watson

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness.  I hope you read some good books, and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't
forget to make some art---or write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.
And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself."
 Neil Gaiman

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Fallen Leaf

Water feature near my Zen House (greenhouse)
In English, a haiku is considered to be three-line poems.  In Japan, having exactly 17 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal word, are strictly adhered to in order for the poem to be considered a haiku.
The gingko bush is turning yellow and the Japanese maple is turning red.
By ensuring the inclusion of the seasonal reference and limiting to the 5-7-5 syllabic format, the final poem becomes a snapshot of nature, void of the poet's own emotions.  Each person reading the poem can draw their own interpretations.
A red cedar 'enso' with bamboo posts, near a small Japanese maple, small garden temple and moss pot.
Zen elements, such as simplicity, minimalism, and nature... are all felt in haiku poems.
The beginning of my new moss garden.
A Zen monk, Ryokan, recited the following haiku on his deathbed.
Showing the back,
Now showing the front
The Japanese maple tree leaves are
falling down
   A new section of my Zen garden with a water feature.
Wind... rustling leaves
the inseparable
by John McDonald
 Red Japanese maple, water feature, smiling Buddha and cement lantern.
If the sun were a tree
Its leaves would be this shining color
And they would drop 
Over my boots
Ankle deep.
When I step
There would be the sound
of light breaking.
Tom Hennen, closing lines to "Wild Aspen Leaves, October"
In my back facing the view of the water, my husband built the torii gate.  The Japanese character is the symbol for truth, trust, belief.  It is one of the 5 basic tenets of Confucius.

Rocks from the 'round rock' beach
2 Japanese maples turning with the Autumn air
My new bell.  My husband built a small torii gate.  When I go outside I face the water and ring it 3 times.
The temple bell stops.
But the sound keeps coming 
out of the flowers.
--- Basho 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Art of Being

My husband has been very busy this summer.  This torii gate has become the entrance to my Zen house.

The effect of building a space within a space is very powerful.

This is the path of stones to the entrance of my Zen house.
Line becoming object becoming space.
My husband built this Zen house (green house) several years ago.  Graced with bonsai outside and bird cages,
bird nests, buddha, rabbit vane, rocks fill the space within.
The effect of the Zen house is to give form to the surrounding gardens.  Within are
sweeping gestures of light and space.
Small pots of bonsai, help fill the space like a coloring book.
Here I am making boundaries, defining a space just to be.
Simply creating a space, enclosed and separate from the wild: a niche to feel safe inside of.
A moss ball I made earlier this summer with a rabbit fern.  It is sitting on white rocks in a lovely flat pot.
Some of my nest and rock collections.
More nests.

Another moss ball I made earlier this summer.  It is a rabbit fern and is attached to a piece of bamboo.
Back outside the Zen house...  at the entrance.  
My husband built 3 bamboo gates this summer.
Closing the gate, building the wall, we shut out the wild but still maintain the wild within.
The intent is to be at one with our environment.
The Art of Being
The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low.  Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.
-- Anne Corey, from A Measure's Hush 


Monday, September 23, 2013

The Beauty of Nothingness

"Creativity has more to do with the elimination of the inessential than with inventing something
new."  ----  Helmut John
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson, page 9
I found some blank journals that were perfect for creating a book.  They are square in format which I like.  The paper seemed sturdy enough for collage and the best of all, the pages lie flat when opened.
And the journal is not too thick....just 45 pages which was perfect for what I wanted to do.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 14
I had been reading books on Zen all summer and I wanted to use words and phrases that helped to explain a Zen tenet... the importance of NOTHINGNESS.  Emptiness or nothingness in Zen philosophy can be mistaken for sheer nothingness, but is in fact the reservoir of infinite possibilities.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 20
In meditation, one can 'empty' their mind of all the daily clutter, the constant inner dialogue that can be distracting, negative or creating barriers.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 21
The Still Point is at the heart of creativity.  In Zen, you access this still point through meditation.
To be quiet, to simply be in the moment, and in stillness.... is the basis of our existence.  It is not a void... but a means to empty yourself from the incessant flow of thoughts and create a state of
consciousness that is open and receptive.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 27
As one counts the breath:  inhale, one;  exhale, two...  the mind empties of all the incessant inner dialogue of judging, complaining, analyzing, wishing and so on.  We can spend our time preoccupied
with the past, or with the future which has not happened yet.  As a result we miss the moment to moment awareness of our life.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 29
After 2 trips to Kyoto, Japan and their flea markets, I had accumulated a large supply of old envelopes, old letters, post cards, receipts and books.  I used these envelopes and letters as well as my hand painted rice papers to create 43 collages (43 pages in the book).  I have posted some of the pages here as examples from the book.  You can view the whole book at this link here.
You can also purchase the book.  There are 3 options:  soft bound and 2 hardbound versions.
THE BEAUTY OF NOTHINGNESS,  Donna Watson,  page 37
"There are two journeys in every odyssey, one on worried water, the other crouched and motionless, without noise."  ---  Derek Walcott

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Dark to Dawn

Histories, assemblage by Donna Watson

I'm back.  Some of you may have noticed that my blog posts have been on a long hiatus.  After 2 years of health issues, I have spent the past several months trying to change my life style including diet, mediation and yoga.  All these changes have taken much of my energy and focus so my short hiatus turned into a much longer unplanned break from the blog world.  

I have also tried to get back into my art work, and studio and this strong effort also proved to be more difficult than I thought it would be.

Identity, collage by Donna Watson
"A time of bleakness can also be a time of pruning.  Sometimes when our minds are dispersed and
scattered, this pruning cuts away all of the false branching where our passion and energy were leaking out.  While it is painful to experience and endure this, a new focus and clarity emerge."
      ---- John O'Donahue,  Beauty:  The Invisible Embrace:   "The Lost Voice"
Identity 2, collage by Donna Watson
And in my new found focus, energy and desire to get back to work in my studio, I focussed on the trees and did not see the forest.  I concentrated on techniques and mediums and what I wanted to
paint, which only led to more frustrations.  I forgot why I wanted to paint.
Promise me
You will not spend
so much time
treading water
and trying to keep your
head above the waves
that you forget, 
truly forget,
how much you have
always loved to swim.
--- Tyler Knott Gregson
".... all progress must come from deep within and cannot be pressed or hurried by anything.  Everything is gestation and then bringing forth.  To let each impression and each germ of a feeling come to completion wholly in itself, in the dark.... and await with deep humility and patience the birth-hour of a new clarity:  that alone is living the artist's life, in understanding as in creating."
   --- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Glimmer of Light

 Donna Watson, Glimpse of Light, acrylic, collage, 20"x20"

NOTE:  There are a few openings left in my upcoming 4 day workshop in Coupeville, WA.
May 20-23.  PERSONAL EXPRESSION:  A Design Approach.  Coupeville is a small, beautiful town on the Puget Sound on Whidbey Island.  The workshop is for all mediums and styles of painting as the focus is on composition, design elements and principles and personal content and expression.
You will begin your search for your true self.  Go here for more information and to register.   

I am starting to see a glimmer of light in my studio.  I decided that the work BLOCK is such a negative word.  I am trying to look at what I am going through as a rebirth, a new opening, a
different new exciting path.

I want to unfold.
I don't want to stay folded
Anywhere, because where I am folded,
There I am a lie.
And I want my grasp of things 
True before you.  I want to
Describe myself 
Like a painting that I
Looked at closely for a 
Long time, like a saying that 
I finally understood,
Like the pitcher I use every day,
Like the face of my mother
Like a ship
That took me safely through
The wildest storm of all.
-- Rainer Maria Wilke

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Dark Side of Light

Donna Watson, SILENCE, 10"x10", collage

I have taken a longer than usual hiatus from my blog.  I have been dealing with a larger art issue.
I have been coming to terms with the truth that I am deep in what is called artist's BLOCK.  I have been in this dark place for over a year.  Until recently,  I always denied that piece of reality and I think overcoming denial is the first step forward.

I have been struggling with health issues for 2 years.  I have gone from doctor to doctor, many blood tests, MRIs, bone scans, x-rays.  The chronic pain and chronic fatigue almost defeated me and took over my life style and art.  During this period, I became bored with my art work.  I wanted to search for a new series, a new content... something deeper and more meaningful.  But my brain was busy firing off pain pulses and I could not focus or concentrate on anything else.  Black. dark, empty.

 2 months ago I went to a new doctor.  I finally got a diagnosis and I decided to do everything I could to get my life and health back.  I went on a strict diet eliminating all white and processed foods, alcohol and chocolate.  I started a daily regimen of meditation, tai chi and yoga.

I am feeling so much better.  It turns out diet, exercise and meditation can have a huge impact on your health.  But I am still facing the devastating and all-consuming thing called BLOCK.  I thought that once I felt better my art would come back to me like magic.  Not so.

"Your creativity is folded into your life in a way that can not be quantified or qualified.  It is a simple premise, yet profound."  Susanne Carmack.  She wrote an inspirational essay on artist's block you can find here.     Her website is here.

Inside each of us
there awaits a wonder
spirit of freedom

she waits
to dance 
in the rooms
of our heart
that are closed
dark and cluttered

she waits
to dance
in the spaces
where negative feelings
have build barricades
and stock-piled weapons

she waits 
to dance 
in the corners
where we still
do not believe in our goodness

inside each of us
there awaits
a wonder
spirit of freedom

she will lift light feet
and make glad songs
within us
on the day we open our door of ego
and let the enemies stomp out
Joyce Rupp,  The Stair in my heart