Having tried off and on for years to do watercolour, I would become discouraged and put it away for a while only to come back to it and fail again. Initial attempts were always overworked. Working with ink was a solution to this impasse. Eliminating colour allowed me to move forward, working wet in wet. I became aware that the paper was not a passive surface that accepts the will of the artist as it is with opaque mediums, gouache, acrylic, etc. It is primary and alive.
The initial watercolours, wet in wet, function very much like dreams. I became so entranced that I would dream all night of working and wake up aching to get back to the studio. The image and the watercolour come together and drift apart.There is no preliminary drawing. The paper is soaked and the loaded brush touches the paper and the ink blooms. The paper moves creating pockets that hold puddles of water, as they dry create an overlay of halos and marks that are independent of the image. Everything is in flux. A part that has been painted in has now disappeared leaving only a ghost. This is anarchy! The images emerge from the process. As the work dries other possibilities become available.
Later I experienced a torn retina and my vision became very much like these wet in wet works. Flashes and floaters making one acutely aware of the eye as the mediator of vision between the self and the world. Perception is fragile.
At each Landart site I make a drawing a watercolour and a small oil painting. Trying to represent this experience with realism is futile. It is necessary to work fast and economically as the conditions are hostile, heat, wind, etc. Working like this, mastery disappears and one is left to invent a new language on the spot. The work is finished when the time runs out as opposed to the studio where time is endless. It takes a while to accept these. They are raw and ugly, but contain energy. I am hooked.
Entering the cave the flashlight or torch creates roiling shadows that that are continually suggesting images, a fountain of creation. Henri Michaux and Picasso as well as others come to mind with images that spring from the moment.
Now less has become more. The “cottage” paintings are about activating the white unpainted parts of the image. Rather than lying under the paint, they interlock with the shapes and enter the conversation. The watercolour is applied to dry paper. The paper is only touched with intention. Each mark answers the previous one. There is no forgiveness. It is a tightrope walk, the marks accumulate, bugs are out, rain starts, the light is gone, the work is finished.