Saturday, February 26, 2011


Serendipity is a word that I, as an English major, have always loved. It connotes the happy "accident" that develops into something beneficial for you. Of course, I have since learned that there are no coincidences, but all is as it is meant to be.

Once upon a time a long time ago while creating a watercolor "pour" in a workshop, a hair fell into the wet paint creating a frosty looking line in the color. Knowing better than to try to fish it out, I let it dry and was fascinated by the textural effect. I learned to enhance the texture with sea salt and to uncover images by painting into the dried surface. I first incorporated it into a "frost on the window pane" image and gave it to my hairdresser.

The curves of the hair then suggested to me underwater vegetation and shells and thus began a series I named "Fantasea". "Broken Angel" is a detail from a larger painting that is "Fantasea #51". The pour is created with no image in mind..just an intuitive dropping in of colors onto wet paper followed by the hair and then the salt. I love watching what happens next. The salt dissolves a little in the water and slows the drying time so that the wetter areas push into the drying areas and make lines that would be considered blooms in traditional watercolor but make exciting patterns in a pour. The saltier paint is guided along the hair and bleeds in a non traditional way into the whites and other colors. What happens is always a surprise. Sometimes the painting is complete when it dries. There are only a few brushstrokes in "Garden Trio." It spoke to me of chairs with very little work.

Fantasea #51 was a beautiful pour, but there was a large very dark area that stymied me until I was looking through photos from a trip to Edisto Island when the shore was being eaten away and sea oats had fallen across the darkened soil of the edge of the sound. There is not much of that area visible in "Broken Angel" but my painting involved a lot of serious scrubbing with a toothbrush to get back to the light shades of the oat stalks. The shells themselves started with negative painting to bring them out of the pour and then a few painted details, mainly in the angel wing.

I tend toward realism in much of my work, but was serendipitously pushed beyond my limitations by a single hair dropping into wet paint..such a little thing to expand my horizons and create a watercolor technique that I have never seen suggested in a book. I am grateful for the medium that pushes me to react and accept change and "go with the flow."

1 comment:

Mary Liz Gallery said...

This information is awesome! Merry Christmas, and thank-you for sharing!