In nature, wabi-sabi presents itself in many different ways: as rust and patina on metal, cracked and peeling paint, splintered or decaying wood, moss growing along a path, leaves turning colors and flowers fading and wilting. In my art it has presented itself as layers of color and texture peeking through to create a rough and aged surface. For me it adds an element of weathered intensity and a rustic aesthetic that has long appealed to me. I love to mimic the game that nature plays as it works through it's cycles or attempts to reclaim man-made surfaces.
Wabi-sabi textures and colors catch my eye in surprising places in my environment that most people pass by. I capture them with my camera phone to use as inspiration for my mixed media layered backgrounds, or I print the photos themselves and use them as collage elements. Today I sorted all of my wabi-sabi finds into an album on my camera phone. It turns out there are a great number of these "swatches" in my collection that I had forgotten about. It's gotten to the point where my nearest and dearest don't bat an eye when I stop mid-step to take a picture of a patina-colored sewer grate, cracked wood floor or rusted dumpster. "It's for art," I say, and that is enough explanation.
In ancient Buddhist teachings, wabi-sabi acknowledges the three realities that nothing is perfect, nothing is finished and nothing lasts. This adds a sense of peace and release to my mixed media explorations when I create to achieve a wabi-sabi effect. Experimentation and working with mistakes becomes a valuable part of my process.