My ideas about what greatness is and can be is so much smaller than the brilliance in humanity and in the natural world. Once I let go of my pursuit of something that fit my vision of “perfect,” I found beauty and interest and delight in so much more. An underlying principle of Zen philosophy is the acceptance of imperfection. People often say my finished pieces appear to be Zen-like, with strong Asian influences. Maybe this is at least partly why.
The Japanese principle of Wabi Sabi considers the beauty of something to be in its imperfections. Discolored, disfigured, insect ravaged, weather beaten, and aged plant material make for great visual interest. Taken out of context and presented so we can clearly see it, degredation becomes compelling.
Painters in eighth century China learned from the teachings of Taoism, which led them to “intended the unintentional.” What they accomplished was more through them than of their own will. They allowed their inspiration to take form. My intention is to allow. I don’t force forms or change color or otherwise manipulate what nature has produced.
This same philosophy was at work in Dadaism, which is essentially: `the absence of any ulterior motive.” I find that the more I try to make something to be, the less it works. The only thing that works for me is to find it and allow. Once I decided a whole press of twigs was uninteresting. I emptied it and put it in a pile to compost. Then I realized I loved that pile. The finished piece of the pile of sewn twigs is one of the best things I’ve done.
The most interesting things I do are beyond the limits of my own imagination. The best art is more of an exploration: the finished pieces, are the result of an adventure.