Every year I choose a single word to guide me. For 2020, that word is IMAGINATION, and with my renewed interest in watercolors, no word could be more perfect. Watercolor naturally lends itself to imagination. Much like Rorschach inkblots, a watercolor painting can be seen in many ways. Unlike those psychological tests, however, watercolors have an added dimension. The various colors, the ways in which they dance and play together, the shapes they form all become elements by which our imagination can create a scene, a narrative, a story, an idea.
When I painted this little abstract expressionist watercolor, I had no pre-conceived notion of what it would be, but as the colors spilled across the page, I saw at once what it wanted to be.
Can you see the geishas?
Of course, I’ve been influenced by my love of Mary Cassatt’s art. She, in turn, was influenced by Japanese art, so from that perspective it’s not surprising that I would see dark-haired geishas in long kimonos.
I thought of taking one of my artist pens and making this into a “line and wash” work, adding in a few details here and there to make it obvious that these are geishas. But then I thought again. Maybe I’ll print out a copy of this and play with a little ink, but I’m not touching this original. I love it just as it is. I love the colors. I love the suggestions of the different geishas. I love the shadows.
This simple painting came about as a result of my morning watercolor play-time. Each morning I use a small sheet of watercolor paper, wet it down, and begin dropping in colors. I watch the colors. I see where they want to go. With a brush — or sometimes by picking up the sheet and tilting it a bit — I gently guide the colors. As I do, my imagination takes over.
What is this? What could it be? What is it becoming?
I watch the colors in fascination, and time after time I marvel at what the paints are creating before my very eyes. My watercolors have become gorgeous gardens of flowers, mystical places to visit, strange swirlings of pure imagination. Some you have seen before and others you’ll be seeing soon.
Although I still question whether or not these expressionist paintings can be called art, I enjoy making them — or letting them make themselves, actually. I love letting my imagination play with these paintings, and I hope you enjoy seeing them.
So, tell me… can you see the geishas? Or are they merely figments of my imagination?