Sometimes the grand seascapes of the west coast winter are just too gray and flat to hold my attention.
When this happens I look elsewhere to see what I can feel and see by the sea. This is when I am most often consciously drawn to beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete” or the wabi-sabi nature of our natural environment.
Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes. Andrew Juniper in Wabi Sabi: The Japanese Art of Impermanence describes wabi-sabi this way: “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wabi-sabi
Feng Shui on the other hand comes from the discipline of Kan Yu or the Tao of heaven and earth. The term feng shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English. Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feng_shui
In both wabi-sabi and feng shui there is an element of human use or organization to replicate and appreciate our natural world. So, when the view on the horizon is less than inspiring, I sometimes seek to photograph these natural relationships between feng shui elements with their full embodiment of characteristics of wabi-sabi at sources – without human use or organization.
These wabi-sabi, feng shui nature photographs seldom make it to my blogs or my online galleries for purchase. They are a meditation or spiritual practice rather than an end result. However, today I am going to share a few of these images with you.
In the trees…
Looking into the deep woods on Henderson Hill gives way to the splendor of the the arbutus trees. Their tangle of light-seeking branches reach elegantly under and around in search of the sky.
A new conversation
Though it is just the end of February there are many signs that a new spring season is beginning here on Mayne Island. One of these is the shedding of the bark on the arbutus trees and the revealing of the fresh new skin on of these sensual trees. It is such a tactile sensory visual experience that I walk along running my hands over their smooth exposed trunks.
Arbutus Bark Natural Design
The pealing and curling captures natural the movement of time in its everyday way of being.
Out on a limb
Trees seem to have invented the strength of the spiral. In our occasional high winds I am often amazed that so few trees are blown to the ground. This spiraling is I believe part of the mystery.
On the forest floor…
While, when the big landscapes fail to impress on a heavy overcast west coast afternoon, the little things sometimes become more beautiful than ever. This is fresh new moss growing on the rocks. So very soft and lovely on the eyes and to the touch.
By the Sea…
A Dance through Time
Over and over they tango the sea and the shore until they are shaped as one. I am squished between the land and sea begging the sky to intervene. Have you been there?
Shell Sand Sea – a love story
The tide is going out. As the water leaves in a wave of salty tears, the shell of a varnish clam remains, embracing the sand.
Butter Clam 1
The round butter clam brings vitality to the gray and the stones by the sea.
Mussels and Seaweed
The connected and passage of relationships crush and sweep away any sense of isolation. Yet, the inner scream of longing cries out to be heard, noticed and cherished.
What belly can grumble with such nourishing abundance for the taking?
There is yet another layer of temporary impermanence. We know in this continuation we are but a moment of moments lost to infinity.
Our live bits drifting with the dead, the dying and such shall we become.
Such is the nature of wab-sabi feng shui in my natural world of photography. May this imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete Tao of heaven and earth bring you a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing.
What wabi-sabi feng shui nature influences your life?
© 2013 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
Liberal usage granted with written permission. See “About” for details.
Creative Potager – Visit with painter and photographer Terrill Welch
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
For gallery and purchase information about Terrill’s photographs and paintings go to http://terrillwelchartist.com
- Feng Shui Basics (navarrahong.com)
- Wabi Sabi Writing (deborahbrasket.wordpress.com)
- Wabi-Sabi – Beauty in Impermanence (everydaygurus.com)
- Photographing and Painting seams in time with John Daido Loori (creativepotager.wordpress.com)
- Stop feeding the WOW-smacked dragon! (creativepotager.wordpress.com)
- Reef Bay Morning Experienced – west coast seascape oil painting (terrillwelchartist.com)
19 thoughts on “Wabi Sabi Feng Shui Nature and Photography”
These photos are images to meditate on.
To answer, in no particular order,…the sky…the clouds…the sun…the relationship between them….who is featured…who hides…how do they interact…as I watch
I smiled deeply Leanne when I came to the last of your comment “as I watch” as I believe this is key. So good to have you drop by today.
Terrill – “These wabi-sabi, feng shui nature photographs seldom make it to my blogs or my online galleries for purchase. They are a meditation or spiritual practice rather than an end result. However, today I am going to share a few of these images with you.”
And I’m so glad you did! Even though I’m a “tree person” — the ethereal aspect of “On the Forest Floor” has really captured my intrigue today.
You asked, “What wabi-sabi feng shui nature influences your life?”
As a minimalist, I reside at the intersection where wabi (minimal) and sabi (functional) meet. A beautiful life with fewer things—simple, yet full. That lifestyle lends itself beautifully to the uninterrupted flow of good, fresh, feng shui energy.
Yes Laurie these practices are something we share and some of the reasons I am so regularly inspired by my visits to your Tuesday blog posts.
I have a sense of serene contentment right now that i have not known for a very long time the pictures and words only startle the emotions into full response thank you
You are most welcome Patricia and such a pleasure to hear about your current contentment 🙂 May it continue into a habitual way of being in your everyday.
Your words and images in this post are so evocative and beautiful, Terrill. I have to get out to Mayne Island this summer! To answer your question I would have to say it’s not as much the things in nature as the moments spent immersed in it, and the attention to the details, both big and small. (I do have a recent passion for dried kelp though!)
What a beautifully written post and gorgeous photos. Like you, I love to touch the things I see, like the naked limbs, and furry moss. But I also feel like I can touch them through your photos. I can see how these would be subjects for meditation. I am so glad you shared these. And thank you for linking to my post on wabi sabi.
You are most welcome Deborah and it is my pleasure to discover your blog and writing at the same time 🙂
Arbutus and cedars are my favourite trees on the west coast. In other parts of the world I love the sakura trees in Japan and ancient olives and almond trees in Italy.
I would love to see the ancient olive and almond trees in Italy someday Diane! But the Arbutus and Cedars are pretty lovely for the moment as well.
A little synchronicity – it was only last week I remember first seeing the term wabi sabi on another blog and here it is again. How well your stunning photos capture the sense of serene melancholy and spiritual longing. I don’t believe we have arbutus here in our woods, so it was fascinating for me to see the peeling bark up close. Will be more conscious of wabi sabi influences in my life as I go through my day…
Wabi Sabi was something I discovered and learned about a few years ago. But I believe it is something we know without definition regardless. Have a wonderful wabi-sabi day Barbara and good to have drop in.
Thank you David! 🙂
I so enjoyed these photos. They speak to my heart! Noticed the arbutus on Facebook and it moved me deeply. Thank you for sharing wabi sabi and the imperfect perfection of it.
You are most welcome Kathy and I believe this value and commitment for the imperfection perfection is something we share. My visits to your blog often remember of these aspects in nature.
There is some real sensory immersion here Terrill. There is a serenity and a real in close connection with the forces and nature and the forms that inhibit the visual landscape. This is the territory of artists and those who achieve not only the creative ideas that initiate the process but the inspiration that can only be sparked by personal experience. Beautiful post and presentation!
Thank you Sam. I can fully imagine how and why you might enjoy the sensory immersion captured in these images. So good have you drop in my friend!