I studied painting at Southwest Texas State University in the mid 80’s. Acrylic painting suited my personality at the time. I could approach a canvas and be quick, terse, abrupt and as impulsive as I wanted to be- and what is youth if not terse, abrupt and impusive?
Then I took a watercolor class.
Approaching a watercolor painting could not be further from the methods and approach one takes with acrylic and oil. To start with, when you want an area to show lightness or give the illusion of light, you use the paper itself- not white paint (Yes, there is white watercolor paint- but it behaves more like gouache and is held with a high degree of justifiable contempt). In my experiences, setting brush to paper requires a significant amount of thought and planning because watercolors are singularly unforgiving. If you want to change an area in acrylics or oil, you scrape it off or wait for it to dry and try again. There is no such option in watercolors.
But beyond the technical challenges is what watercolor painting brings to me personally.
There’s a degree of meditation that finds me when I paint. It doesn’t matter if my subject matter is serious or frivolous. There’s something calming about the way that watercolors behave- a blend of things that I can control and things that I cannot. The former allows me to create my compositions. With the latter, I always find interactions that I wasn’t expecting and am almost always surprised at what those things reveal.
Light. Light is important to me. There is probably no element in my work that I am more passionate about than rendering light.
I am not trying to recreate reality. I have respect for photorealism as a technique but too often, the compositions of photorealism are lacking. Technique in and of itself is not a guaranteed success and without an effective composition, art fails. When I paint, I’m not trying to recreate reality- but I am trying to recreate *a* reality. It’s a reality that borders whim, desires, memories, lost loves, loneliness and my eternal love for boundless horizons- a subject that I expand on in my painting, Nothing Ever Happens in Saskatchewan.
My compositions and my watercolors in particular, become a deeply personal experience and reflects the way that I perceive and negotiate the world around me. I spent years doing serious, introspective and reflective works in watercolors and printmaking (intaglio). But as I’ve grown older, my need for such things has diminished.
These days I like images that are cute, fun, whimsical or just nice to look at. I’m sure the angsty twenty-something that I used to be would unleash an endless chain of eyerolls accompanied by gasps of exasperation but I’m no longer that person- and haven’t been for a very long time.
I hope you find something here that you like and that it makes you smile or, at least, remember what it’s like to be able to perceive the world with some degree of innocence, wonder and share my fascination with light and boundless horizons for a little while.