Art at Altitude

We recently made a short trip to New Mexico for a family event. I’ll post photos and backstory about that soon, was a great trip. I took a little travel kit of sketchbook and watercolor markers to have something to do during the downtime. A big chunk of downtime is just flights and layovers. Jammed into a tiny seat on a tiny table at 30,000 feet above Louisiana, it had time to do a little study of a winter cattail.

Working from memory is oddly easier than working from a photo. The thing about watercolor is it has a mind of its own and may not want to cooperate. Especially true when you’re still a newbie and don’t know how to predict what will happen, or coerce it to do what you had in mind. But working from memory, you get into a sort of feedback loop with the paint and water and paper. Instead of trying to force it to look like the photo, you get into a conversation with it. Dabble a little pigment and water on the paper, then respond to whatever happens, play off the result and add to that.

Sometimes an accident results in an interesting effect that’s worth amplifying, then following to see where it goes. When you try to reproduce a photo, you can get caught into a frustrating loop, trying to recreate one visual medium with another – but the results are not comparable. It’s a sort of dead end with no exit and no way to backtrack.

I may unhitch my intentions from that mooring and just follow where the wind blows, see where we end up.

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