The thing I love about working in watercolor is the latitude this medium affords. Each of my paintings is a collaboration of extremes - the abstraction of a chaotic but controlled flow juxtaposed to a sharply graphic rendering of a featured shell or complimentary grouping of shells.
The mixture of pigment, water and light creates never-ending combinations and limitless possibilities! Whether the theme of a particular work involves water above in the form of clouds, or water below as ocean current, it's water in all its forms – in subject, background and the medium in which these are expressed that attracts me to watercolor.
WHY THE SEASHELL?
The seashell - marine mollusks and bivalves - deserve our attention and admiration. How frequently we've seen shells portrayed whimsically in paintings or as decorative art, with a brief brushstroke here, a bare suggestion there. We know what it is after all- just a shell- a less important component of a vastly more important marine ecosystem.
Upon closer inspection, however, we detect divine inspiration. Shells display the same amazing engineering expressed in a spider's web or the arrangement of petals in a rose. Impressive geometry and complex algorithms form exquisite designs as graceful curves, spines, and spirals. Breathtaking colors join in lovely, and often surprising combinations. How could these features escape our notice or the shell itself be relegated to "less than important" status?
Shells are not just symbolic of ocean themes. They're indicative of Divine engineering and a well conceived blueprint. Often delicate yet strong enough to withstand ocean forces; beautiful as they are functional and so artistically crafted to truly inspire awe! For all these reasons I chose to focus on the seashell for this body of work.
From time to time, collectors ask me why I photograph the shells instead of working directly from physical specimens. I usually begin a series by photographing multiple specimens of a shell I’m interested in exploring. Maybe I’ll shoot them at daybreak or in the crisp light of early morning. Midday offers more options as the overhead sun brilliantly accentuates specific qualities like color and architecture. Sometimes late-day rays will cast their golden brilliance and bathe the shells in an almost Divine illumination creating a distinct “moment in time”.
Photographic images allow me to experiment with specimens, singly or in groups, from a variety of unique perspectives. Viewing the images inspires my imagination and helps me define the type of background or atmosphere I want to create in my work. Photographs offer possibilities for numerous renditions, but I usually pick no more than 9 -12 photos from the myriad I’ve taken, and then use just 2 or 3 from that group in a particular painting.