I love the spontaneity and freshness of watercolor - especially the “accidental” movement of color that results from painting wet into wet. I usually start with a wet into wet technique, and work through all the stages of the paper, until I am painting wet into dry. I often soak the painting in the bathtub overnight to soften the edges and lighten the colors, going back in the next day to sharpen details and brighten or darken colors where needed. I repeat this process until I can see that the painting is finished. I believe the record for the number of times this was done was a painting I sold in 1985, called “Blue Tree”. It had been soaked twenty–two times before I was satisfied with the result. Of course, high quality paint and paper are essential to this process. “Seasons <12” is an example of soaking and redefining. If I am not sure that a painting is finished, I will put it up on the wall at the end of my bed, upside down. It will be the last thing I see before I fall asleep, and the first thing I see in the morning; that usually allows me to make a determination. If I want to preserve the freshness of a particular subject, I will stretch the paper, taping it to the watercolor board, painting wet in to wet, and then wet into dry until the painting is finished. This keeps the lines crisper, and the paper and color more controlled, as in “Elsah Buggy Shop <14”. When doing a more complicated and less random work, like “Victorian House <5”, I outline areas with washes on dry paper, then wet the paper to continue the painting.
The more the color, water and paper contribute to the process, the happier I am. I often start laying in color, deciding what I am painting only after the movement of the paint speaks to me. I also love the controlled painting of a subject certain, and the spontaneity of painting on location, but I will invariably go back to the studio every few days and let the paper and paint decide the subject. As is evidenced by my portfolio, trees are my favorite subject. I also love old barns and houses, but the patterns and spaces created by the branches and the texture of the bark on the trees is the most fascinating thing in the world to me. I particularly love negative spaces opposed with positive strokes, as in “Trees <173”. I also enjoy the effect created by deconstructing buildings, creating patterns and accentuating details until the subject is abstracted, as in the previously mentioned “Victorian House <5”.
I also work in acrylics, but invariably find myself treating it as watercolor, and have to force myself to bring in thickness and three-dimensional texture. I have solved this to a certain extent by adding texture, like sand or pastiche, before I begin. This creates wonderful effects when the paint is allowed to run and dance around the textures. I have also done some mixed media, primarily to vary the mood of the painting and bring out the subject, or to flatten and minimize the subject. I love the fact that no matter how many times, or in what medium I paint a subject, something new and exciting always happens.