The Horizon Series

Growing up on the East Coast near the ocean and subsequently moving to the land of lakes and prairies in the Midwest, I find I am drawn to the openness, space, and light these areas have in common.  A body of water, a strip of land, and lots of sky never cease to fascinate me and my eye is always drawn to the edges where the land meets the sky or is reflected in the water.  I love the variety of these connections: hard-edged, diffuse, or multi-layered, depending on the light and atmosphere.  The fluidity and transparency of watercolor makes it a perfect medium to explore these qualities of light, atmosphere, and connections. 

My Horizon watercolors walk the line between representation and abstraction and my intention is to convey the sense of these spaces rather than a literal interpretation of the landscape.  

I love working with color, from very subtle variations of grey to brilliant combinations of hues.  I begin by layering multiple washes, typically twelve to twenty or more on each piece, to progressively build depth, intensity, and gradual transitions of color.  By layering transparent pigments, I create subtle changes and gradations from wash to wash; keeping the paper wet avoids a hard edge where one color transitions to another. The ‘horizon’, in contrast, is more spontaneous and here I intend to leave evidence of the action of the blending, backruns, and flow distinctive to watercolor.  Once the paper is wet, decisions must be made quickly and finding the balance between control and the magic of freely flowing pigment is the challenge for me.

the Abstract Series

My Horizon paintings have always walked a line between representation and abstraction.  After many years of working within a structure of horizontal bands which, however abstract, have always evoked the landscape, I have begun working completely non-objectively. Eliminating the horizon line, I focus on the interplay between colors and shapes activated by line.  I continue to work in watercolor and, in many pieces, maintain the subtle gradation of color I have used in my Horizon pieces. But I am now incorporating opaque pigments that I’ve rarely used before, along with charcoal, watercolor pencils, and watercolor crayons. 

My new work is an exploration of strong shapes, expressive line, value, and color.  I start with an idea - a division of shapes or a few lines, and begin to build on that with watercolor, charcoal, and crayons. Watercolor has a reputation of being difficult and unforgiving.  In this series I have enjoyed exploring those limits: lifting, layering, washing out areas and reworking.  The depth and complexity of the resulting image appeals to me.

Painting Titles

A note on the titles of my paintings:   I number a painting when I start it - purely for my own record keeping.  I like to keep track of the pigments and materials I use on a piece as I work.  Whether I finish it in a month, years later, or not at all, it retains the same number.  I start a new series randomly:  maybe when a notebook is full, after a show, sometimes at the end of a year, or when I feel like a change.