Collage artist Serena Barton challenges artists to break free from a focus on precision and to embrace wabi-sabi—the Japanese philosophy of finding beauty in imperfection and transience—to make mixed-media art with a worn, timeless appeal. Follow Serena as she finds inspiration in her own backyard.
“I took this picture on my first wabi-sabi walk around the outside of my house. On my back porch, two broken pots sat atop a paint-stained table. The burnt orange stucco area at the top of the photo is part of an exterior wall of my house.
“The pot directly on the top of the table has some potting soil on it. Or maybe it’s just plain dirt! Really, this is just a picture of junk. Or is it? There’s still beauty in the shards of handmade pottery and in the glistening colors of what used to be my paint table.
“To me the way the colors, shapes and designs are juxtaposed gives me wabi-sabi inspiration. In fact, the colors of this photo have inspired several of my autumn pieces. I had put this arrangement together before I’d ever heard the term wabi-sabi. But I knew the arrangement spoke to me of accidental beauty arising from imperfection and even decay.
“Take your own photo of an arrangement that inspires you and choose a color scheme from it. From the photo above, I chose terra-cotta red, turquoise and burnt umber for one of the pieces below, Between, and the shape for the other piece, Chalice. Which colors and shapes might you choose?”
In the Fall 2013 issue of Inspired, available free here, Serena shares more wabi-sabi philosophy and a step-by-step demo for using re-inkers and acrylic glaze to create timeless art.