Welcome to MissouriBendStudio!

This is an online journal of my artistic investigations and a way to communicate about my work, ideas, quandries and queries! I welcome comments and conversation and do hope you enjoy these musings. My artwork is available in my shop MissouriBendStudio on Etsy.com or on my website.


Monday, September 20, 2010

A Walk Through The Universe: Balance

As I thought about "balance" this week, I traveled a good many places in my mind and found myself investigating a number of sources for the path.  I read a little more about Japanese aesthetics, a topic which I've been quite drawn to in the last few months, as the work that I am making seems to come from a place that does not make a separation between art and life.  I recently read Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren and very much identified with the beauty that wabi-sabi embodies in form and spirit. In the West, we tend to think of balance in terms of equals, a fifty-fifty kind of thing, but in Japanese aesthetics there is balance if all parts make the whole.  There is an elegance in the assymetrical balance that is a reflection of life.  

I turned to Donna Watson, a mixed-media collage painter, whose work and life seem to embody the principles that manifest themselves in quiet balance.  As many readers of this blog know, Donna has a wonderful and inspiring blog, Layers, which you can access here.  Donna has provided some beautiful images and her own reflections on balance below.

Faded Memory

The Way



I consider myself a mixed media collage painter.  Balance is important to me on several different levels.  As a painter, balance is one of the principles of design.  This is an important principle in my paintings, as I try to balance elements such as texture.  I may have a large area of texture in one area, and smaller patches of texture balanced with smooth areas in other parts of the painting.  I use the same principle in my collages.  I will move around pieces of paper that includes text, which I see as texture, until I decide there is a balance with other elements of texture, color, and shape.  Balance adds to the quiet essence in my work.  On another level, my art work in my studio helps me balance my life with my family.  This balance enriches my relationships, my beliefs and outlook on life, which then influences my art work in my studio.  On even a larger level, my gardens and nature really influence my work.   All my work in my gardens has to do with balance.  My choices in what to plant, and how I balance stones and water features among the plantings is intrinsic to my aesthetics.  I may place all the textures of the plants, pots, stones in an order that is pleasing to my eye, but this is all balanced by the whim and laws of nature.
-- Donna Watson

Donna's collage work is a big inspiration to me.  I love her use of subdued color, texture, mark-making and layering.  They are quiet, beautiful and seem to point to something else, something that is both there and not there, inner and outer, microcosm and the macrocosm...all one.

As in any journey, stepping one foot ahead of the other, forging a path, I pored over Donna's pieces, contemplating the link for next week's post.  I thought about their structure and the use of space, formal and informal, playful and serene.  But that wasn't quite it, then I saw it in the surface and the layers themselves.  It was the way the layers reflected the history of their making, but also pointed to history that is stored in memory, in objects, in the marks we leave behind.  They were a kind of palimpsest, another long interest of mine...palimpsest...time for more investigation. 

Please visit A Walk Through The Universe next Monday and if you have thoughts related to palimpsest you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them.  In the meantime, there will be a few posts during the coming week.  Thanks so much to Donna Watson for making the beautiful work that is hers to make and sharing her thoughts about balance in her art and life. 


  1. Thank you so much for featuring my paintings and my thoughts on balance here in your wonderful, thought provoking and inspiring blog.

  2. You are most welcome Donna! This feature, I hope, is an opportunity to expand horizons and learn something new. I appreciate your contribution and, of course, your beautiful work!

  3. Great intelligent inspiring post, Patti! Eastern philosophy has it all over the West - it's so true that we think of balance as bringing distinct elements that are in conflict into some kind of equal relationship, like warring parties achieving a truce, when really, true balance is a state where there are no separate elements, all is one, so what goes where or has more space or prominence doesn't even mean anything, everything that needs to be just IS. Thanks for such a thought-provoking series!

  4. Thanks for your comment, Gabriella! Glad you like this series of features...don't know where it will take us, but should be interesting!

  5. I like Donna's thoughts that our studio work balances other aspects of our life. Donna's work is always beautifully designed. "The Way" is a favorite.
    Formal symmetrical balance doesn't leave room for movement. I find the Eastern aesthetic allows for movement and thought, at least for me. Thank you Patti for this great post.

  6. Leslie, thank you for the wonderful comment about movement...so true!
    Thanks for stopping by this blog...much appreciated!

  7. Thank you for your inspiring words on 'Balance', something I try to achieve, not always succesfuly.
    I have come here via Donna's blog which I have been following and admiring for some time.

  8. Ian, yes, aren't we all engaged in the search for balance! Thanks so much for stopping by and adding your comment!

  9. Donna's work has been a favourite of mine since her very first blog post. Merely looking at Donna's paintings makes me feel balanced and soothed. Palimpsest is also a long interest of mine so I'm looking forward to your next post.

  10. Happy to hear from you Robyn! And yes, Donna's work has that effect on me as well. Such a beautiful combination of marks and forms all floating in a perfect balance! Each week is a great treasure hunt...hope you enjoy the palimpsest post!


I'm happy to hear from you...comments and questions are welcome!