Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Anticipated mail deliveries from Crystal Neubauer and Yves Leterme . . . and thoughts about "wabi-sabi"

I was delighted to get Crystal Neubauer's collage in the mail Friday.  

This is my purchase, it is an untitled, 6x6 collage on wood with frame
 And I must say (as I've heard others mention this), the real thing
is much better than the photo!

I'm just starting to purchase other artists' work . . small pieces, and I'm enjoying that so much. Wonderful to have an in-person piece of work I admire. Some of the mediums she uses with collage elements (vintage ephemera and salvaged wood) are encaustic (beeswax and resin) and acrylic on salvaged wood and assemblages. Below are more examples of her work, and clicking on the image will take you to her website

Untitled, 6 x 6, framed collage

from Utterings: A Wordless Prayer Series
(authentic ephemera: packaging materials, book spine ... )

"A Long Time Coming"
Collage encaustic assemblage

"Moonlit Serenade"
12 x 30 Collage and acrylic

Encaustic collage framed from salvaged antique materials

I have spent a lot of web time looking at art and what is it that draws me in to some art. About 6 mos ago, I learned about the term, wabi-sabi. When I looked at Crystal's collage, in real life, I was really drawn into it, and I didn't understand what that was, until I was reading Yves Leterme's book, "Thoughtful Gestures" (which was my other anticipated mail deliviery). This, what I call, "drawing in", is something that happens when I view a piece of artwork that resonates with me. It feels intuitive and without words, and I feel that when I see Yves Leterme's paintings. His words  . . . "quiet authority from subtle details, small doses, a limited palette, and simplicity" just popped out at me, and I realized that is what I respond to.

And so . . about "Wabi-Sabi" . . . 

Having seen Yves Leterme's work blogged on Tumblr, I had checked out his website and wordpress blog. I am not a calligrapher, but I am drawn to a certain types of script. He has different names for different styles of his script. He uses it in his paintings, and what I was drawn to was, at times, legible, and other times not. But it had something else. What that something was intrigued me. It appeared lyrical to me, and although it appeared to be random and spontaneous, there seemed to be a kind of order or structure. THAT was the thing that was different for me. When I saw that he had just finished a book and was taking orders, I decided to purchase it.

I had taken a calligraphic class years ago. I didn't do well at the time with the process of spending hours in repetitive practice, something that is necessary to develop a natural, sure, rhythmic flow. So I didn't pursue it. 

As I was reading Leterme's book, Thoughtful Gestures, I came upon his description of wabi-sabi, and I realized that what he was describing, was the very thing I was experiencing with Crystal's work, what I experience with other art that draws me in, and what I would like to bring, in some measure, to mine. I believe it will take me a while to get past "art school" direction, which at the time, I took fairly literally. I believe now that there is a way to bring spontaneity, intuition, and flow without sacrificing formal elements. To me it can be very subtle, but it is what I strive for and hope to bring to my work. So . . . acceptance of the fact that that will be an ongoing process, connected to lots of hard work, is my intention. Acceptance that what I want in my work will not be as instantaneous and automatic as I found realism to be in art school. I've learned a LOT on Tumblr. To me it's like having the world's galleries at my fingertips. I found I like many styles of art, and wabi-sabi is not the only kind. Although feeling "drawn into" other styles and palettes does bring some confusion to what I want to bring to my work right now, I will keep looking and learning. Ah . . . . life has so many rich lessons to learn!

"It's the art of finding beauty in imperfection, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay and death. It reveres authenticity above all and it celebrates cracks and crevices, and all the other marks that time, weather and loving use leave behind. Things Wabi Sabi are unpretentious and unstudied.". . . "In my latest work I have often tried to capture that spirit of Wabi-Sabi. It may look easy and simple, but" . . . "A true Wabi Sabi piece derives it's quiet authority from subtle details, small doses, a limited palette and simplicity.

----- from Thoughtful Gestures, Yves Leterme


  1. Crystal's work is just beautiful! Thank you for posting these.
    It is so interesting - and important - for artists to examine what it is that we are drawn to in other people's work: what resonates with us, and what would we like to...contribute to that dialogue...is perhaps a way of saying it.

    Loved hearing about your creative process - thanks for sharing that.

  2. Thank you Lynn . . my pleasure!

  3. Wabi Sabi....LOVE IT- profound acceptance, authenticity, reverence of age, lack of pretention- as an art form! Just beautifully stated, thanks for pointing it out- these pieces that you are using as examples are wonderful- Thank you, Jann

  4. Very happy to see that you own one of Crystal's pieces. How wonderful to be able to see it face to face. I'm also drawn to that wabi sabi quality in art...... or anything for that matter. Lovely post, Jann. By the way I tried to email you about your comment on my last post and it kept coming back mail failure. I thought I would try replying to comments via email but too many are showing as Mail Failure so I'll go back to the old way of replying on my blog.

  5. I love how you are exploring what "draws you in", what speaks to you as you explore your own art making process. It strikes me as a way of getting clear about what you, yourself want to create. A lovely thoughtful, contemplative approach.

    Yes there is something about wabi sabi pieces, the subdued palette. Love that box frame of reclaimed wood.

    Looking forward to exploring your links.

  6. I am very pleased to see Yves work getting exposure in the art world. He deserves a wider audience. Wonderful artist and an amazing man.

  7. JG- two things I'm so glad that you are buying the art of other artists you love - it is just such a good way to bring their presence into our own space; and I think finding beauty in the discarded and decaying seems to be a lovely thread that binds quite a few of us. Go well. B

  8. Jann, Yves Leterme's work speaks very strongly to me as well and I appreciate your mention of his new book, which I will order. If you like Yves' expressive use of gestural mark as language, you might also be interested in Steven Aimone's book, Expressive Drawing: Freeing the Artist Within.

  9. great stuff, have you seen John Cage's works on paper?..

  10. beautiful work and wonderful that you shared your thoughts with us -- definitely want to check out Leterme's book, too.

  11. thank you for this wonderful post.. I also love wabi sabi and have several books about the quiet simplicity and rough beauty of wabi sabi.. I also received THOUGHTFUL GESTURES as I also love line and script.. and I am a fan of Crystal's collages.

  12. Again, very nice rendition of shifting fantasy ... and very nice color ... like to take a look ... :-)