Thursday, December 21, 2017

Meditation #6: Wabi Sabi

Are you still having fun with these?    I love doing these for warm ups when I get into the studio.

One of the characteristics of watercolor as a medium is that it can be very unruly.  This is code for:  OMG.  I can't make it do what I want it to do!! 

You're not alone in that frustration.  The trick is to work with the medium and to let it surprise you. 

The knack of finding the perfect in the imperfect is a Japanese philosophy called wabi sabi.   It's a good philosophy to have when working with watercolor.

Watercolor Meditation: WABI SABI

Breathe in. Breathe out.

Relax your shoulders. Relax your arms and hands.

Breathe. You are going to have so much fun!

The purpose of this meditation is to help look for the perfect in the imperfect. It's easy to judge our efforts as unsatisfactory when we are learning or when things spin out of our control. It's easy to focus on what we don't like or what didn't turn out instead of what is beautiful or what did turn out. Wabi sabi is the Japanese philosophy of finding the perfect in the imperfect. Watercolor is a perfect way to explore this idea.

Take a deep breath and relax.

Gather your materials:

You will be able to use these few materials for all of the activities in the series.
  • Watercolor pigments: Tubes, pans, or sets. Whatever is easy for you to get and use. Make sure you like the colors. If you have tubes, then you'll need an old plate or lid to use as a palette. [You can also use coffee or tea if that's all you have close by.] 
  • Paper: Any size mixed media paper or watercolor paper. Thicker watercolor paper won't buckle if you decide to use a lot of water in one of these activities. You'll need at least one sheet for each activity, but you'll probably have so much fun with some of these that you'll just keep playing. 6 x 6 inches or so is a nice size. Big enough to play, but not be too intimidating. If you have larger paper and want to cut it down, go right ahead. [You can also use a napkin if that's all you have close by.] 
  • Brush: Any watercolor brush will do. Size 8 or 10 round is good for starters. [You can also use a straw, spoon, etc. if that's all you have close by.] 
  • Water jar: To clean your brush in. A recycled food jar is great. Pint sized is great. 
  • Salt: Any kind, any size.


Choose four colors. Any four. It doesn't matter if they 'go together'. Remember how beautifully the Opposites worked together in the last meditation?

Make puddles of each. Thick or thin - like cream or tea.

Start with one color and drip it or brush it in three places [big or small, you choose]

Clean your brush and do it again with another color. Three places. Touching or not touching the first color.

Clean your brush and do it again with the third color.

Clean your brush and do it again with the fourth color.

OBSERVE how they mix and mingle.

  • Do you want to stop here and let it dry? 
  • Do you want to drop more paint on in places? 
  • Do you want to drop plain water on in places? 
  • Find the places that make you unhappy. Look at them closely and look for what is beautiful about them. 
  • Look for the perfect in the imperfect. 
  • Let it dry and look again. Watercolor can really change as it dries. Find the perfect in the imperfect.

I'm here.

Thanks so very much for spending some time with this today.  I hope you've used this meditation to relax and put some calm in your day.  If you have a question, observation or photo you want to share, I'd love to hear from you!
See all of my classes here.

The other meditations in this series:

Meditation #1: Observation

Meditation #2: Flow

Meditation #3: Resistance

Meditation #4: Obstacles

Meditation #5: Opposition

Meditation #6: Wabi Sabi

Bonus Meditation: FLOW-ers

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