This watercolour was a real pain to create. The Mulberry paper is mainly used for printing techniques like etching, and doesn’t like India ink and watercolour. When applying watercolour the water is sucked right out of the brush, and the rough surface resists a nice even brushstroke. But I wanted to approach ancient, and predominantly non-Western techniques, like the tree-bark paintings that originates in some South-Sea areas.
Although the painting refers to South-Sea visual- and narrative motives, it also contains references to African (Chi Wara) antilope masks, DNA strings, architectural remnants of past cultures and ancient Northern European runes. It’s a memory chart of cultural history, a theme that I have started to explore again recently.
From time to time I take stock of the colour themes that we carefully create with the use of Adobe Color CC (previously called Kuler). I started using Kuler years ago, and now, after the integration of the applications into the Creative Cloud I still have all my themes right there, at my fingertips, from the first attempts onto the latest themes. Nice.
There is magic involved in mixing and matching the right hues, values, and saturations of the colours. Do they live together? Do they clash? Do they create a harmony, calm, energy? So many memories and associations are intrinsically connected with colour. Like the scents that sent Proust into the past, colour can transport us, change our mood, evoke something we thought we forgot.
Turning the colour wheel, and finding the right theme is invigorating, and intellectually stimulating. But, finding a fitting title is just sheer fun. From the mundane, to the ridiculous, from the serious, to the childish, I think I have exhausted the whole spectrum of possibilities. Now I sometimes create a theme, just for the fun of having to think up a title later.
I picked a couple of themes from the CC colour library I created over time and made some colour theme samples in Illustrator to accompany this post.
When I awoke early last morning I received a New York Times breaking news message that central Italy had been hit by a devastating earthquake. The indescribable forces of nature have scarred the beautiful towns and villages in one of the unspoiled regions of Italy, and they have indelibly changed the lives of so many people who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their belongings.
Just two weeks ago we visited the region. Based in an idyllic restored water-mill we admired the beautiful villages, and towns like Ascoli Piceno, Arquata, Aquasanta Terme, and Arquata del Tronto. I marveled at the typical insects that are unique to the Marche region, like the black ‘Copper Damselfly‘. We imagined living there. We visited Arquata on a very quiet morning. The church with its strange cubist crucifix, the charming town square, the small empty backstreets overseeing the wide rolling landscape. We admired the people, friendly, going about their daily business, chatting, idling, visiting the church. It is one of the most charming and welcoming places I know.
While the terrible events in Italy are still evolving we are grieving for the provinces, towns, villages and, especially, people that have been hit by this disaster. My thoughts are with you.
I have a personal habit of not making selfies of places I visit, but in stead, I make ‘owlfies’. Quite aware that an adult with a cuddly toy, taking pictures of it in front of monuments and everyday scenes may rise some eyebrows. But that doesn’t bother me a bit. My owlfies are a record of my business and leisure travels, and they can become slightly surreal. But, at least, they are not gratuitously narcissistic.
One of the most recent owlfies I made was just in front of the small municipal office of Arquata, a few weeks ago, when the town was still unaware of what was coming to it. I normally keep my owflies to myself, or, quite rarely, post them for my close friends on Facebook. But on this occasion, as a tribute to this wonderful town, and the wonderful region, so cruelly hit, I will post it here, not to make fun, but as a personal tribute and as a sign of sympathy and empathy, wishing the people of Arquata and all the other towns affected by the destructive tectonic forces the strength and courage needed to overcome their losses, and rebuild their lives. We were there, and our thoughts are with you.
This painting stood around unfinished for years. Although I changed both my style and technique some time ago, I decided to give it the finishing elements it needed, by painting in the unfinished bits, and touching up the shadows. Wavering between abstract and realistic, this is a pivotal piece.