"There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element"~from Hamlet, by William Shakespeare
We are over 80% water, and so like a bee to honey many of us enjoy flying through that ubiquitous element that makes up so much of what we are. I have become hypnotised by water, by it's perennial undulations. To try to capture those patterns with paint is a tough task. However the practice of scaling a wall of water is a job I love. Each thing that an artist attempts to paint and imbue with their own fingerprint is different. Skies are some of the toughest things to paint, especially calm skies. When there are storms, with choppy clouds and angry horizons it is easier, but a clear, bluebird day is a hard thing to capture.
And so it is with water. Smooth water is tough for me, but the reflections and refractions of light through the waves is a much more satisfying thing to tackle. Perhaps it is because I dislike smooth gradations of paint. I dislike blending, but prefer to let the brushstroke and pigment sit there and kibbutz with the other planes of light and colour. I like the chatter of a variety of brushstrokes and angles of application.
This is the fourth painting I have done like this. I cannot help it. Like a sailor needs to return to the sea, I keep going back to these cerulean paintings. Perhaps it is a way to continue to see my friend Hannah, who lives a distance away from me. Perhaps it is because of her personality, her vivaciousness, that I return here too. It is all connected.
The coastline of Carry Le Rouet in the South Of France.
A few years ago I was in France and my hosts and I drove down to the Mediterranean Sea. I remember craning my neck to see over the hillside that I knew rose up by the highway and then swept down to "The Big Blue" as my friends called it. And sure enough, when I first saw it, it took my breath away. Such deep, rich teals flew by as we neared it, a diaphanous expanse of turquoise that compelled you to get closer.
I lamented not having my bathing suit with me but waded into the cool, salty water until it was over my knees. Even when I was as small child and my mother first put me in a swimming class, where they had a little platform under the water that enabled little children to jump off into the terrifying five foot depths, there was something familiar and effortless about it all. Like an embrace that never quite hugs you back, it supports you but will let you fall if you do not work to retain stability. Water is a strange and beautiful paradox. It takes many lives, but also restores life, is essential to life. To contemplate water is to contemplate yourself. And to paint water, well, perhaps another form of knowledge lies in those blue tubes of paint as well..
"Hannah, Osmosis", is 36"x48", oil on panel, and is currently available at Abbozzo Gallery in Toronto, Ontario.
Thank-you for reading and have a beautiful weekend,
"There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures."~William Shakespeare