I had the privilege of going to 2nd Biennial International Watercolor Show this October while on vacation in Spain. Narbonne, France is closer to Girona and Barcelona than I thought! Thank goodness for high speed rail and the gift of birthday money! Yay! I couldn’t pass up the serendipitous opportunity. So, I hopped on a train and got to look at the paintings for my birthday—a little side trip. I wanted to share some of the pics I took, highlighting different artists I was particularly struck by.
In addition, I took a series of upclose pics of the same paintings as well, as I hunted for clues into some of the “nuts and bolts” of the techniques these different artists were using. It was very illuminating to have the opportunity to see some of these works __really__ up close, as in… within inches (not to worry, they were protected by glass!). If you have the opportunity to go to a show like this in the future for some reason, my advice is-- It’s well worth going.
So, I have 5 or 6 painters I wanted to highlight from what was easily 20-30 or more, and sort of take other on a "virtual tour" of the exhibit! What was of particular pleasure was seeing some really big Alvaro Castagnet paintings upclose-- something I'd not done before. I'll be sharing pics of his work in a later post. Actually, as there’s a series of pics and thoughts on each artist, I’m going to break it up into a couple of shorter posts.
Now, without further ado—
I was particularly struck by these two abstract paintings. I had no previous knowledge of Michelle, but I found out later on that she lives in France and offers classes. Her abstract work is fascinating, mostly because, to me, she treads that line of creating something almost organic in composition… as if it were a painting of a very small animal, like plankton, that I just hadn’t seen before. In addition, the paintings really seem, well, “watery”. There were some other abstracts there that didn’t strike me as much, partly because I felt like they were almost gauche or diluted acrylics. Michelle’s paintings, however, always seemed to really take advantage of the medium in ways that appealed to me.
Also of interest to me was that her work was gallery wrapped and sealed in some way. Satin varnish? Or wax? I wasn’t sure. She put some sort of additional "paper" or "tape" around the edge, as a trim. I'd not seen a gallery wrap before, but had only read about it online. Cool!
Of particular note technically was that she seemed to be using what I can only assume is hair in paintings. In the up close shot above, you can see the actual shadows and highlights from some of the unremoved hair. My presumption is that she set the hair into the paint while it was wet, and then brushed/ dusted it off after it was dry, to get these very delicate, organic “etchings” in the paintings. I love the idea of using whatever material is available to make marks with, but I’d never thought of using hair before!
This man did some beautiful mixed media figure paintings, where he was gently cross-hatching with pencil—darker pencil for certain edges and recessive areas, and a paler blue pencil for areas of highlight.
In this closeup, you can see how he is using the texture of the paper to good effect. Perhaps it’s conte or some sort of charcoal or chalk?
In these two next images, I was also struck by his method of merging the fore and background areas of the image by having his textured/abstracted background watercolor wash actually cross into the body of the figure. Then, on one side, you could see he was carving out the form of the body with a judiciously placed pencil line or two on the back of the figure, and on the shadowed side he was modeling the form by using a new, darker blue watercolor wash. Using the two media in conjunction with each other was very intriguing to me, and really merged the fore and background elements of the painting into one.
Next time, I've got Ewa Karpinska and Eric Laurent. I'm saving Castagnet for last, as I've got the most pics of his stuff.... :)
Links to the other posts in this series-