Last month I was in Japan.
I saw great beauty and order in gardens, art, buildings, and food.
It wasn’t just surface beauty. It was/is an approach to life that manifests in outer beauty. That approach involves going slowly, taking care, learning something totally, following rules, mastering a craft, respecting process, being aware. It means spending your whole life learning to do something well, and then giving that thing your whole attention every time you do it.
One result of such mastery is freedom. Looseness and ease are paradoxically the result of discipline, of doing something with all of your being. (As in this painting by Nagasawa Rosetsu 1754-1799)
At the Miho Museum, in the forests SW of Kyoko, there was a show of Bizen pottery. The potters understood their clay and kilns perfectly. They allowed the spirit of the clay to shine, decorated with the natural residue of the firing process.
Miho had a great gift shop! I bought a small rough creature made of clay.
I also bought a children’s book. When I got home I discovered that they were by the same artist – Kouichi Maekawa.
In his art I see freedom, playfulness, and a love of this world.
Here are many of the pages from the book, enough to tell the tale.
The acorn of an idea that I took home from Japan is that the process is as important as the result in a piece of artwork: my life and work can’t be separated. I don’t know how that acorn will grow in the years to come.