I paint to connect with my natural surroundings, the sources of calm and balance that regenerate my spirit and provide a sanctuary from the noise and clutter of everyday life. I find joy that there is structure, order and beauty in a time of uncertainty, hardship and mounting stress. I want to express my response to the awe-inspiring spaces that I love, to capture their character and show the wonder I feel when I am outside so that I might affect how others feel. I paint to raise the level or awareness of unique environments, parts of which are slowly disappearing, so that they might be preserved.
The subjects of my work reflect my need for quiet, order, and space. They take the form of landscapes, seascapes and nature close-ups. I often remove elements that suggest intrusion of technology by taking out wires, signs, litter, machines and sometimes people. I control the focus by using color, value or composition to direct the eye to what is most essential or to create mood. I shift the perspective or magnify a micro-environment to enhance the viewer’s total experience.The scenes I paint are simple in nature, but complex in content. A shell, for example, becomes the focus of piece about the micro-niche on a patch of sand and is accompanied by the seaweed, other shells, signs of beach animals, or effects of water appropriate to a particular spot. In larger views, I enjoy including many details to help the viewer experience one object as part of a context, the greater whole, just as I am a part of the greater universe where everything has a role and is essential and where there is great diversity.
I use watercolor because it is an exciting, versatile medium and always a challenge. I can create subtle nuances of color and value when I use glazes of transparent color one upon another and colors may mix directly on the paper to create pleasant “surprises”. Carefully chosen, colors remain clean and transparent suggesting inherent or reflected light. Others colors interact to create a granular surface that can be used for texture. I avoid opaque colors or those that muddy when they interact with other colors so that I can create environments with the unpolluted air and water of my surroundings. As a fluid medium, watercolor is perfect for some aspects of the equally fluid ocean, sky and weather common to the natural settings I use as subjects. Used with less water and applied by small brushes, watercolor paints can create the fine details that appeal to a person who accepts her real environment and wants to show it as it is.
Being on-sight is important, so that I can absorb the total feeling of the scene at a particular time, season and weather. There, I sketch and make notes to myself, decide what to include or subtract, and use a camera to record both the larger scene and tiny details. Returning to the studio, where there are fewer distractions, where it is warmer and drier, and I can take my time, I make a loose drawing on archival Arches 140 lb watercolor paper using a pastiche of memories, images and drawings as sources. The paints are artist-grade Winsor/Newton tube watercolors. My palette is limited to five colors from which others are mixed. No black or white is used. Nylon and sable brushes, sticks, razor blades, masking tape, sponges, an old cloth and a palette knife are my tools. Washes and dry-brush and a variety of techniques such as spattering, salt dispersal and pulling out paint make the scene come alive. I am intrigued by patterns but prefer to create them by painting positive and negative spaces instead of blocking paint with Frisket or tape.
A painting can take from a few days to several weeks depending on its size, its content and my schedule. My creative journey and its slow progression deepen my experience of the subject. My view is expanded as I look more closely or try variations. I am never bored and always excited by the process. The more I paint, the more connected I become to something spiritual and greater than myself.
Many of my paintings have traditional or local subjects. I am creating art in a place that attracts vacationers from all over the world. Many want an artistic record or interpretation of places they have enjoyed during their visit. Recently, I have taken more interest in creating the nature close-ups. They allow me to paint a little more abstractly. I can add color, strengthen values and change composition because few people have examined pebbles or beach debris closely. I am freer to create. While the perceived realism is an initial draw, the added underlying abstraction is more important to the collector of art. In 2009, I began a series showing Cape Codders engaged in industries struggling to survive: fishermen, shell-fishermen and cranberry bog workers. People and the history which affects their development are also part (but not the focus) of the environment, and as threatened at times as the other flora and fauna.