The slow down forced on the arts due to the Corona virus has delayed or eliminated many of opportunities for the large public sculpture projects that I have focused on over the last 20 years. It has been a mixed blessing to work on a few residential sized commissions and to add to my inventory of available sculptures. I’ll provide some coverage of those sculptures in my next post, but for the present I would like to talk about the watercolor paintings I’ve been able to do recently.
I have always been a painter, beginning almost 60 years ago in the Detroit studio of my first art teacher, Ruth Loring Janes. Making paintings, but not being productive enough to make an income, led me to add silkscreen printmaking to my portfolio of work in shows and galleries. The hard-edged and solid color nature of my silkscreen print compositions eventually brought me to see those designs as three dimensional relief sculptures. Later those relief sculptures became the primary vehicle for my expression in art. Still, all of those sculptures over the last 30+ years began as small pencil drawings which were then fleshed-out, slightly larger, as rough paintings (usually watercolors) before being realized in metal and airbrushed automobile paints. The practical point of this process is that it is easier to adjust a metal sculpture with a pencil, eraser, watercolor and a brush than it is with a drill-press, bandsaw, grinders and a welder.
I have always had a deep-seated distrust of spontaneity in art.
The watercolor paintings I am currently engaged in are complex in subject and mood and are not intended to become sculptures. Most are multi-figurative and deal with concepts metal sculpture wouldn’t be able to treat practically. One painting subject that has always been a favorite of mine is symphony orchestras. Not how they sound, but how they look. I recall as a kid (11 or 12 years old I think) my art teacher who was also a harpist, and her husband was a brass player in the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, took me to a DSO concert which was totally out of the realm of my family’s normal experience. I sat in the first row of the balcony and while I don’t remember the music at all, I was dazzled by the experience of the fiddle bows going up and down in sync, the broad gestures of the conductor and the gleam of all the brass. That sight and motion is burned in my mind and I am still doing paintings of that scene, each coming out as a different piece of music. The path your eye takes through the composition is fluid and visually defines musical rhythms.
This one is titled “SYMPHONY #4”