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The Sound of One Hand: Reaching Beyond the limits of Traditional Ink Painting

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wabi Sabi

The concept of  'Wabi Sabi'.

"Defining wabi sabi in physical terms is like explaining the taste of a piece of chocolate by its shape and color." ~ by Drs. Wong and Hirano 
"Learning to see The Invisible"
Source: Touching Stone Gallery

What is wabi sabi? Ask a Japanese this question and there will likely be a long silence. Pose the same question to an American, however, the answer will often be quick and sure: "It’s beauty of things imperfect!" Why do the Japanese struggle for an answer to the meaning of wabi sabi that seems to come easily to Westerners? Could they be searching for a different answer altogether? - Touchstone Gallery
The term wabi sabi is derived from two characters shared by Japanese and Chinese. Originally, wabi 侘 means ‘despondence’, and sabi 寂 means ‘loneliness' or 'solitude'. These are words for feelings, not for physical appearance of objects. it is a profound aesthetic consciousness that transcends appearance. It can be felt but rarely verbalized, much less defined. 
 Many of my readers and collectors of my sumi-e art work, know that I experienced a massive stroke. I learned many things from this experience. One of the most important things I learned is this: I have found that it is important to love ourselves again, to be accepting and tolerant, and be open to what our lives are now. To help me with this concept, I learned about wabi-sabi, the art of imperfection. Wabi-sabi is the Japanese tradition of celebrating the beauty in what's flawed or worn. It offers an inspiring way to look at your whole life. To discover wabi-sabi is to see the singular beauty in something that may first look decrepit and ugly. Bringing wabi-sabi into your life requires a mind quiet enough to appreciate muted beauty, find courage not to fear, and a willingness to accept things the way they are. Wabi-sabi depends on the ability to slow down, to shift the balance from doing to being, to appreciating rather than perfecting. Wabi-sabi can be adopted as a way of seeing and being in the world. 

Commemorative 'Wabi Sabi' Seal 
This is my personal 'Wabi Sabi' seal/chop carved especially for me by Henry Li of Blue Heron Arts. Henry carved this mood seal at my request. It will be used on the special life occasion of the 30th Anniversary of my stroke, which will be on October 20, 2013. I will be painting a commemorative sumi-e on that day to honor my stroke and will seal the painting with this very special chop.

This Tianhuang soapstone is from Changhua, Zhejiang, China. * It is cut into a beautiful rectangular shape with natural skin and edge on one side. *Tian means "paddy field" and Huang means yellow.  In restrictive sense, "Tianhuang" refers to a kind of yellow-colored soapstone unearthed from rice paddy in Shoushan, which is regarded as the most valuable of all seal stones in China. However, this Tianhuang soapstone of mine is NOT from Shoushan, but from Changhua, Zhejiang province, which is known as "Changhua Tianhuang" or "Changhua Yellow".  

The stone that I chose for this special carving is very wabi sabi in its own right. It is its own beauty in imperfection just like me. And, very auspicious, indeed! 
 Below is a video of Henry carving my 'Wabi Sabi' seal. Enjoy!

Director of North America ICCPS
International Chinese Calligraphy and Ink Painting Society
国際中国書法国画家協会アメリカ支部:Ms. Casey Shannon アメリカ現代水墨画家

Casey is also a member of the Anshan Rare Stone Seal Society in Liaoning province, China.

Copyright ©  Casey Shannon Studio Art. All rights reserved

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