Mendocino Art Association

Poetry of Wabi Sabi workshop

Last Saturday I taught the mixed media workshop, titled The Poetry of Wabi Sabi, in Ukiah for the Mendocino Art Association . Wabi Sabi, the quality of things that suggests a natural process, vulnerable to effects of time, weathering, human treatment, yet still possessing poetry, poise and strength of character. We explored this esthetic by making textures, and moving inks and paints in spontaneous ways, collaging papers and more, keeping in mind the words of some favorite poets/artists such as:

Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.  -Salvador Dali

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. – Lao Tse

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.  -Crowfoot

In the following painting I was demonstrating gesso texture and using a stencil with sumi ink. In the Monday Muse Group this week I had time to finish it and write.

lightgesso texture, sumi ink, acrylic inks, stenciled patterns, cricket stamp, on w/c paper

This piece was prompted by the poem:

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

and how the cricket gets inside the house and calls to his comrades on the outside.

We live indoors in imagined compliance with the world outside, forgetting to notice the glory of light shining through the cracks. Nature’s sanctity beckons steady and true, even as we pursue the folly of perfection. (my response)

yugenInks on dry gesso texture, writing with a stick dipped in Diamine Silver Fox  ink

Another workshop demo that I later finished. The word yugen, yoo-gehn, is Japanese and means, “an awareness of the universe that triggers feelings too deep and mysterious for words”.  Enough said!




tissue prints, stencil prints, acrylic paint and inks on w/c paper, 10 X 11″

Windows overgrown with branches rising up from deepest roots.

Is there an opening for the nightengale to sing his love songs?

A shade is pulled down, yet he continues

Even in the dark of the moon, joining the chorus of crickets and night creepings.

There’s a shimmer of movement in the house, and the shutters are thrown wide.

There’s something so heart rending about a nightengale who sings the night long to attract his love. Here we call them mockingbirds because they have such a spectacular range of bird calls, covering most of the bird kingdom with their repertoire.

The romance of the nightly song dies, of course, when one is trying to sleep through it. This has only happened to me once for a period of over a week.

What brought forth this loose train of thought was not a recent experience, but a blob of ink on the paper which looked bird-like, which they often do! And then there was the black brambles and the square grid-like, window-like shapes. The mind quite easily shapes itself to what is seen on the paper, especially in the company of fellow explorers, like the students in my Muse group. We shared many such mind expansions on Monday as we let black inks and acrylic paints have their way on our paper.

October 22 I’ll be teaching a similar day long workshop in Ukiah for the Mendocino Arts Association. There may still be a couple spaces left in that one. Visit their website for more information.