Water, always. I live beside great lakes, have a cabin on the shore of Georgian Bay where lake effect bestows more precipitation than anywhere else in the vast province of Ontario, Canada.
When I began painting at age 13 I learned with watercolours. Every summer my dad and I enrolled at the Mary Schneider School of Art and painted en plein air – often we painted moving water in streams, waterfalls, waves.
At University I switched to acrylics, age 18, looking for a greater intensity of colour, but still found myself working in washes. I’ve tried oil painting several times and although I appreciate the stretch and muscle of it, I miss what water does. The collaboration with water on a canvas or on paper is me, in and with my element.
Water finds a way, always. I like to control only so much of where and how it wants to go in a piece. That said, I have the final say – I ‘stamp’ it with my energy, my signature. In the end, the lovely living ‘wetness’ of a wash disappears entirely, with only the dried colour left to describe where it flowed and dripped across the surface.
In 2020 and beyond I’m leaning in to this collaboration process with water, further loosening my control over what happens in the living wet to see where it will take us. I’ll begin with these pieces you see below, which are pieces cut from the twenty-foot backdrop of my old studio – the canvas that caught all the drips from eight years of painting. I cut up the pieces that were the most interesting and stretched them onto gallery depth stretchers.
Here are four of the stretched backdrop grounds, to give you an idea:
Watch this space for updates, to see where these go from here.