Although spring should be on its way, we have plenty of wintry skies these days to practice with in watercolor. Skies seem to be meant for watercolor–as, come to think of it, that’s what they seem made of. Still it’s a challenge to get all those fluid wispy shapes that nature has perfected. From my spot here at tree-top level (but inside a cozy room!) I see this lake reflecting back the shades of the sky and the surrounding landscape. Never a dull moment… Having gone back over a lot of art books recently, I have brought back white gouache with near-abandon yet seeking still to keep some white paper untouched. Gouache has always been controversial with the purists but paradoxically always welcomed by artists so accomplished as John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer. So us mere mortals should have no hesitation to experiment away…
Thinking about the intense efforts (as, for instance, reported upon just yesterday on the Lawfare Blog, “Beware the Slippery Slope…) by some to paint (figuratively speaking) people as “other” and somehow lesser human beings just because of their birth circumstances and, in the case of DACA young people, because of the choices of their parents, I have forged ahead during some quiet spells recently with some illustrations related to the volume on ‘diversity’ I have in mind.
Painting–literally painting–is definitely a way to displace some energy that otherwise would be fruitlessly wasted watching the already-absorbed news, for instance. It’s also very interesting to consider trying to explain concepts of diversity and discrimination through a medium (drawing) that is addressed to children.
Why now? It appears to me that current events must capture the minds of those concerned about individual human tragedies, including families being separated, which are being reported in the news. How a nation treats its own people, moreover, and other nations’ people tells us a lot about its future (and its security).
There is no better age to gain lifelong appreciation of the world’s diversity and wonder–and to nurture lifelong curiosity and thirst for learning–than when very young… Ensuring that children retain their curiosity is essential now more than ever to the survival of the planet. The issues we face are not in some far off future. They are here and now. Already mankind needs unprecedented amounts of talent and imagination to cope with very real challenges we face today–challenges which inevitably will combine and interact in ways we can’t precisely predict.
Last weekend with below-freezing temperatures outside, intrepid watercolor painters and other artists in this area met in a nearby community center as the initial gathering to a new watercolor group.
Though 103 (!) individuals had signed up to attend since the announcement came out in mid-December, due to the room size attendance at this initial meeting was kept to about 16 (and, probably due to the icy weather, only about 10 actually attended–men and women of various ages and backgrounds). Ironically (as happens) the original convener was someone who had literally just moved to the area. Perhaps for many part of the attraction was simply an excuse to get out of the house after enduring days of extraordinary Arctic cold. But, as always happens, perfect strangers also end up as new contacts, taking note (sometimes literally) of each other’s painting techniques and favorite materials.
My painting subject during this get-together was a colorful view through some trees at New Orleans’ Audubon Zoo last November around Thanksgiving. The day was incredibly clear with pleasant temperatures and it made walking through the zoo (though many sections are undergoing renovation) an unforgettable visual treat. I’m not a fan of painting from photos as so much of the really interesting light effects are lost (at least in my photos)–but using a photo for this project was the next best thing to being there. I have a lot of photos from the brilliant afternoon spent visiting this gorgeous zoo-park and, as the wintry weather here continues, I’ll be sure to be using some of them as a reference for more painting experiments.