Water plays a significant role in my life and in my art. I create with it almost every day. And large bodies of water figure significantly in my life as well. I live very near the Pacific Ocean, and have marked significant moments at the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean. It's occurred to me that there are lots of reasons why water connects my life and art and the two intertwine. I've been thinking about it for days... heading down another water trail...
Water holds a vast symbolism, and thereby also special meaning for me, at a level that I'm not sure I had previously recognized. I've been painting with it since I was a teenager. Water media in art has been and continues to be my primary tool with which I speak. I love all the different parts of the process - dipping a brush in fresh, clean water, putting the first stroke down on a new sheet of paper, watching it run and absorb and move as if it were alive. And it is alive. Not just because I make it so, but because it has a life of its own. And the best part of it all? Seeing unexpected things happen that I didn't plan, like when two colours run together and create something completely new and vibrant. Little surprises, little miracles.
Without trying or planning, the newer abstract pieces have strong themes based in water; moving under water, circling with the flow, and being carried by currents, moving and reaching toward the surface. The abstractions are what made me realize just how deep the water ran, so to speak. They are symbols of life, for my life. They speak of letting go, of releasing, and allowing the water to do what it does - to carry, to move, to push to the surface. They are not intrusive. They are calm, steady and peaceful.
I've discovered in this too that being under water has its own beauty. It is not to be fought, but embraced. In this way I am able to see the beauty for its own sake and sense the peacefulness of being carried by waves. There is so much beauty and freedom in letting go of control. An illusory control anyway, that is best given up. Fighting this, in practical and symbolic terms, means drowning.
And all the while, the water carries me to the surface. Some days I live on the surface, and the sun is shining and colours are bright. I like those days. They have their own kind of beauty and fun. I'd like to be there more... to be buoyed up.
It has been suggested to me over the years, by well-meaning artist friends, that perhaps I should give up on watercolours and move on to oils or acrylics. I've tried, and always come back to my first love. When I think of how much better a living I could make as an artist, if only I would give up my watercolour paints, I can't seem to pack it in and move on. This is my language, these are my tools. This is my calling.
Is it too much to say I am called to paint with water? I don't think so. However dramatic it may sound, I really believe there is a place for this medium, and a place for my renditions in it, for things only I can say in just this medium. And I know I am in good company - Turner, Blake, O'Keeffe. Klee, Hopper, Wyeth. So many.
Watercolour paints are a luminescent medium that is unparalleled. It might be because it is so second nature to me, that I am biased to its qualities. But as time goes on, I am given more reasons, rather than less, to continue with this wonderful method. If it means I need to spend some of my time telling people how great watercolours are and why, and living more frugally than some other artists using other mediums might, then so be it. It speaks to me in the tiniest moments and in the grandest ways, thoughts and lessons that I am so glad to have captured and learned. So many watercolours that have allowed me to evoke beauty and depth. How great that such a medium can be infused with so much meaning for me, and hopefully for others too. I wouldn't want it any other way. I wouldn't want to miss any of this.
It is amazing that something often so quiet, yet loud and grand when it needs to be, can speak such volumes. How great that it is my pleasure, my play and my peace....