I haven’t worked in watercolour for a while, but recently I’ve found myself going back to it a couple of times. It’s a medium that seems spontaneous, but I find it makes me re-think the way I normally draw and paint. I have to re-see light and shadow, and really consider where not to paint. Colour builds in layers, and shades through diluting the pigment. Acknowledging absence is fundamental to the process.
Maybe this is why I decided to use watercolours with my Dad [fig.1 & 2]. Re-thinking what I knew is part of my interaction with Dad and his dementia. Trying to understand him in the Now, whilst still holding him in my memories and who I am; using art to talk with him: something that doesn’t require context, doesn’t provoke distress, something that is present and visceral, that can be witnessed as a process, and be pleasurable in itself.
I’ve touched on this in previous posts, and while it may seem egotistical, the moments when I look up and see him enjoying seeing me drawing or painting are moments when I see HIM for a second, and I feel he can see me – and not the person I have to become around him now. If I’m honest, drawing and painting allows me to process the situation too. My focus on an object or a scene, lets me put emotions that aren’t helpful into technical processes, and it turns out both of these paintings consider life, and the path of decay.
In contrast the other sketches [fig.3&4] consider pattern and line in blocks and try to catch the vibrance of holiday mornings, before people are up, before the tensions of the day begin. These are experiments with light and colour, about the beginning of the day, and the potential of life.
They are exercises about how to depict the world in new forms, with new limitations and solutions, and although a key part of describing line in the paintings is by filling the space around it, this absence is a positive statement, and together with blocks of colour, make Norfolk seem Mediterranean, which for a few moments, it was.
Starting from very different places these images produce very different results. But each one impacts on my practice - provoking new ideas and pathways for approaching, and embracing projects in the future.