Embracing Imperfection: The Role of Wabi-Sabi in My Art

Embracing Imperfection: The Role of Wabi-Sabi in My Art

Hey there, I am about to dive into a topic today that's new to me and it has been a part of my creative process before I realized what it was: Wabi-Sabi, or the art of finding beauty in imperfection.


If you're unfamiliar with the concept, allow me to explain. Wabi-Sabi is a philosophy deeply rooted in Japanese culture, a worldview that accepts the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s about appreciating the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. It's the sun-bathed wrinkle on an elderly face, the uneven glaze of a hand-thrown pottery bowl, or the captivating charm of an old, rusty tractor. It's about embracing authenticity, celebrating cracks, crevices, and all other marks that time, weather, and love leave behind.


Now, you may ask, "How does Wabi-Sabi influence artwork?"

To start with, Wabi-Sabi is not just a philosophy; it's a way of life. I've always been drawn towards objects, spaces, and scenes that narrate stories of their own — stories of age, of existence, of survival. The delicate dance of an ink line as it bleeds into watercolor, the natural variance of colors mixed by hand — these reflect the true essence of Wabi-Sabi.


The old tractors I paint, for instance, are more than just pieces of machinery. They’re symbols of a time gone by, each dent and scrape a testament to the stories they could tell. I am not just painting an object; I am immortalizing a history etched in metal and time. And it’s the imperfections that make this history rich and worth cherishing.

Similarly, in painting historic Hawaiian buildings, I celebrate their unique architectural details and the marks of time. These buildings have weathered storms, seen generations pass by, and stood resilient. It's the slightly tilted roof, the worn-out bricks, the peeling paint - all these details that scream Wabi-Sabi - that make these structures so irresistibly beautiful to me.


Even when it comes to my sea turtle paintings, Wabi-Sabi plays a vital role. I don't aim to capture a flawless, picture-perfect creature. Instead, I celebrate each turtle in its individuality, every pattern on their shell, every graceful flipper movement, every knowing gaze, reflecting a timeless wisdom that only life in the ocean can bring.


Wabi-Sabi is my guide when choosing my palette too. I am fascinated by the organic, the unpredictable. The way one color blends into another, creating a myriad of shades and tones, reflects life’s fluidity and natural evolution. It’s about control and surrender – knowing where to guide the ink and where to let it roam free.


This philosophy extends beyond the canvas. Each day, I strive to see the world through the lens of Wabi-Sabi, seeking beauty in the unusual, finding peace in the transient, and appreciating the depth in the simple. It's a humbling reminder that we are all works in progress and that our cracks and flaws don't diminish our worth but instead make us uniquely beautiful.


Studying Wabi-Sabi has allowed me to create with more authenticity, to appreciate the journey more than the destination, and to truly understand that perfection is not the aim, but expression is.


I hope this post has given you a little insight into my creative process and has perhaps made you look at the world a little differently. Because, remember, there is so much beauty around us if we only take the time to really see it, in all its imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete glory.


Till next time, keep seeking beauty in the overlooked, the dismissed, the imperfect. Because life, my dear art lovers, is one grand, beautiful artwork of Wabi-Sabi.

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