Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wabi-Sabi Book Review

I had a chance to meet artist and author Serena Barton on my recent trip to the Pacific Northwest. She was kind enough to provide me with a review copy of her newly released book Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop: Mixed Media Techniques for Embracing Imperfection and Celebrating Happy Accidents.

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through these pages and learning more about her approach to creating gorgeous, abstract art. Over 70 gallery images of her own work are spread throughout the book to illustrate different techniques. Perfectly bending simplicity and complexity, her artwork is quite stunning and has really motivated me to want to use some of her techniques to bring the same wabi-sabi quality to my art. I also loved the fact that each of art pieces was accompanied by a brief description of her process, inspiration, and/or interpretation.

Serena starts the book by explaining the concept of Wabi-sabi, in words, photographs, and poetry. A challenging concept to define, she states "Wabi-sabi is an aesthetic that values the passing of time, the seasoning of time and elements, the handmade and the simple." The book is divided into an introduction and 7 chapters that guide the reader through a series of illustrated step-out projects that themselves reflect the wabi-sabi concept. But the information is presented in such a way as to also provide many stand-alone techniques that can be incorporated into any approach to art.

With words like spattering, sponging, dropping, wiping, scraping, and incising used in section headings, I knew that this book would resonate with me. While I found the step-outs clear and easy to follow, I generally do not re-create the projects in art books. Rather, I look for approaches and techniques that provide inspiration and ideas that I can then incorporate in my own style into my own work. And there were plenty of inspiration and ideas to be found on these pages.

I use acrylic glazes all the time in my work but Serena's "recipe" for this will open up completely new possibilities for me in the future (click here to be taken to an excerpt on this process at Create Mixed Media). She also shares her process with plaster, encaustic, cold wax, acrylics, oil, tissue, tin foil, cheesecloth, 3D embellishments and many other traditional and non-traditional mixed media materials. I like the fact that she incorporates many common household items into her repertoire. Serena also included a section that guides the reader in the process of re-working a "less than successful"(which we all have) finished artwork into something new by utilizing part of the original surface rather than just simply completely covering over with gesso.

The thread that runs throughout the book is the wabi-sabi concept in abstract art. She does not focus in on any one single technique, but rather shows how many approaches (acrylics, encaustic, mixed media, etc) can add a wabi-sabi aesthetic to your work. For me, this was the perfect approach. In all, this book is a welcome addition to my collection and one that has me itching to make art!


To celebrate the release of her book, Serena is having a giveaway of an original piece of art.

To be eligible to win, go to this post on her new book-related blog and leave a comment telling her what you are creating now. You can also learn more about Serena at her art blog.

You can see what many other artists have to say at this book by visiting the following blogs, all of which are part of the Wabi-Sabi blog hop.

6/1:  Sara Neumann
6/3:  Jill Berry (giveaway)
6/4:  Carol Sloan
6/5:  Liz Kettle
6/8:  Seth Apter (you are here)
6/10: Pam Carriker


Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop is available on Amazon. Or you can purchase the book directly from Serena here. She will sign the copy and include a bonus packet of collage materials for your own wabi-sabi work. 


Sue Marrazzo said...

NICE Post, and Info!

David Hayes said...

Oh my! Something else for me to get myself in trouble with!! Just like you to do that to me!! Great review...sounds like a book I NEED! And thanks for the tip on the giveaway!!!

Jo Murray said...

The concept of wabi-sabi really hits home with me. We waste so much on this planet when it can be re-used, and the wear and tear of age enhances so many surfaces. Love to win the book...but hey, it's in the lap of the gods. Good luck to all.

Jo Murray said...

I DID Mean to say the artwork, but I was thinking about the book...must be dementia setting in.

Serena Barton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Serena Barton said...

Thank you Seth and readers for the wonderful post and comments.

Due to my lack of event organizing skills, I ended the giveaway for the original art piece before the blog hop ended, causing grief untold.

However, I have started another giveaway for two high quality reproductions of my work. So any who have commented at after the previous contest ended will still have a chance to win a prize, as will anyone who comments on my wabi-sabi art workshop blog before June 11.


sukipoet said...

thanks for the tip about this book. Years ago I called my art card "business" Wabi-Sabi and myself a wabi-sabi artist. I love the concept and have several books about WS. Will be interested to read this one.

alteredbits said...

you are so eloquent, seth! i love this book by serena and loved your review of it very much. it was wonderful to be a part of this great blog hop with you. serena and her art are so very inspiring. (and so are you and your work!)