|This is one of the artist's more traditional pieces in terms of his painting process.
(Raspberry House by Jamie Wyeth, 1988, watercolor, 22 1/2 x 28 1/2.)
Watercolor is one of those wondrous materials that can be
manipulated in so many different ways. Techniques vary, levels of liquidity and
viscosity can be changed, and the way the paint is applied is open to wide
interpretation. There's a volatility to watercolor as well, and that's what
makes water-based paints so exciting to use.
For Jamie Wyeth, son of notable American realist Andrew
Wyeth, watercolor paintings have been as much a part of his oeuvre as oil
painting. But Wyeth never approached watercolor art as a purist, allowing his work
to live outside of the box in many ways.
He would often combine pencil, ink, gouache, acrylic, and
pastel with watercolor. The mixed-media combinations allowed him to create
paintings that don't look quite like other watercolors.
There's a weightiness
to the paint—a heft that is visually interesting. Painting this way also brings
in a lot of surface variation to Wyeth's work. The paint texture can vary from
rough and delicately pitted to liquidy, sticky-looking, or gleaming and glazed.
There's also an opacity to the pigments that is rare to see
in watermedia. This is the result of the artist combining different materials,
but Wyeth would also build up thick layers of watercolor paint—quite
a feat considering the nature of the medium. To prevent the surfaces of the
paintings from cracking and flaking (when he didn't want them to), Wyeth used
Old Holland watercolors, which have an elasticity to them that the artist found
|Sea Battle by Jamie Wyeth, 2003, mixed media painting, 29 1/2 x 43 1/2.
Discovering what the best artists working in watercolor—like
Wyeth—are doing allows me to know the potential of the medium and myself. I enjoy
Watercolor cover to cover because
there is always something new that catches my eye, and the color mixtures and
mark making that I see can often ignite an idea for a new idea in my own work.
I hope it is the same for you. Enjoy your subscription!