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.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

A Gallery Exhibition and the Power of Art

 Echoes 1, collage, Donna Watson

I have 4 paintings and a number of collages in the Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Garden exhibition titled The Celebration of Spring through June 14th.  The gallery is open every weekend and on week days by appointment (360-387-2759).

Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park
2345 Blanche Way
Camano Island,  WA

Moment, cold wax, oil paints, paper, stone:  10"x10", Donna Watson

"Stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences.
What makes a work of art 'good' for you is not something that is already 'inside' it, but something that happens inside you --- so the value of the work lies in the degree to which it can help you have the kind of experience that you call art."  ---  Brian Eno

Fossil, cold wax, oil, papers, fossil:  8"x8", Donna Watson

"Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences.  The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring... "  James Joyce,  Ulysses

Landmark, cold wax, oil, papers;  16"x16",  Donna Watson

"Art starts with creation adn will always be part of being human.  As long as we live, our art will be there.  It is like when you come upon a dried up plant that you know contains an edible tuber.... you have to dig really deep to see where it started its life.  That is where you will find the food to eat.  Art is like that.  You have to dig deep to find its life (meaning).
----  Xgaiga Qhomatca

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.