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Virtual Student Exhibition : Students Watercolor Exhibition
The following watercolors were done in Spring 2020 by the students of Thomas MacPherson class, ARTH 125: The History of Watercolor. Please take delight in the students creativity when using color palettes, techniques and delivering a subject. Furthermore, notice how these paintings employ watercolor techniques the students have worked with over the such a bumpy semester.
Anne has created a visually, witty, multi-panel watercolor that uses the butterfly and butterfly shape as a starting point for her composition.
Olivia has created a still life of a breakfast setting. The dish and cutlery are cropped at extreme places to focus attention on the food. Olivia has a tendency to go beyond the mundane to get to a narrative. The toast looks like the profile of a person. Could the egg white be the profile of strange creature? Can we see a torso in the piece of bacon? We are left to let our imagination run wild at the possibilities.
Leilah, a psychology major, set about the difficult task of trying to make a visual image of Bipolar I disorder. Leilah described her painting to me as, “Through the flowers I painted, I tried to express Bipolar I disorder and the two prominent symptoms of mania and depression.” This is a very strange painting and the imagery is very disturbing to look at. I think she succeeded.
In Liz’s fish painting, the dropped colors barely hold together creating the effect that the fish are below the surface of the water.
Andrea’s approach to this assignment created a totally abstract work that looks like she used the cosmos as a starting point.
Olivia was able to achieve a painting where the sky and water glows. She was to achieve this effect by painting the hills with very dark dropped colors. Value is the most important aspect of a painting if you want to produce an image this has impact and presence.
This dynamic composition of mangoes (?) on a book against a cool, nebulous background, creates an ambiguous space for the viewer. Are the objects floating in space or are they anchored to a surface? Marisa is able to achieve this effect through the colors of the objects advancing and receding in the abstract setting.
Jennifer produced an painting of extreme delicacy; the background is ethereal and flowers appear to be dissolving. Even in this painting where the value range is predominately in the medium to light range, it is the very dark accents that makes the painting stand out. Some of these shapes have hard edges, others have soft ones. It is this variety that makes the painting.
Barbara has created a watercolor that appears to be of flowers in early morning mist. She employs a spray bottle over the whole painting but she has still been able to work in some detail by glazing just enough structure to bring the sunflower out of the mist.
I am impressed with this painting because of its originality. Marissa went to the bluffs on Lake Ontario to use as her subject. Marissa then interpreted what she saw into the techniques that we learned in the class.
Olivia’s approach was direct and simple. She started with loose washes and dropped color in the background and then put calligraphic brush strokes and a dry brush over them. The sky is particularly wonderful.
This is a very powerful image because of the value range. The sprayed background provides a nice counterpoint to the detail in the sunflower. The dark, cool background suggests an impending storm but the warm colors in the flower appears to be in bright sunlight. The watercolor becomes a painting about dichotomy on many levels, which creates the drama and interest for the viewer.
Barbara captures the intensity of a hot dry day through the use of color. By making the flora brown, she suggests dried plants under an intense hot sun by making the yellow color appear to glow.
Snake and Flowers
Abigail, unlike most of the students in the class, has had an extensive art background and painted in oils and acrylics but not in watercolor. Watercolor is the antithesis to oil painting and those that learn to paint in oils first, find it challenging to paint in watercolor. Abigail was able to keep an open mind and master watercolor and all of its idiosyncrasies and then be able to exploit its unique properties. The background is particularly interesting; I still don’t know how she actually did it.
In Abigail’s painting of a peacock, she was able to drop color in such way that the blue has an iridescent quality while the background is muted with contrasting colors that adds to the visual effect.
Abigail’s self portrait is done in a stylized manner with abstract colors. She has been able to use every color on her palette but still is able to control the final product. I love the way she used the blue in the dress to subtly bring out the form of the torso and the way she drew her face reminds me of Matisse’s portrait paintings.
Leah has developed a body of work that utilizes loose watery techniques like dropping color and using a spray bottle to create images where nature is just a starting point for invention. She has developed a simple painting style that uses spontaneous techniques with calligraphic brush strokes learned from studying Chinese sumi-e painting.
This painting is a daring attempt to use the spray bottle as the primary element. Please also note the use of calligraphic brush strokes on the leaves and glazing on the fruit.
Child Hiding Under a Bag
In this superb composition, Liz was able to interpret this whimsical subject with an economy of means. The brush strokes and watery washes intermingle with the white of the paper.
In this painting, Jennifer utilizes a combination of complex sprayed colors to create the atmosphere of the sky and the control of calligraphy to create a solid foreground and transform her landscape into an inner vision.
Jennifer chose to use dropping color in a way that makes her painting of a bee very realistic. The background is a beautiful example of the kinds of textures one can make using this technique.
This is a painting of contrasts; flowers that are painted with colors that have hard edges and the background that has been spayed. These contrasts produce a work of art that has a strong sense of space.
Laura’s painting is a well designed image that incorporates all of the techniques we learned throughout the semester. She was able to use all of them in painting the hummingbird. The sprayed background provides and perfect space for the bird and flower to come front and center.
Daniela was able to contrast the density of the flowers by using glazing to build the structure in them. They contrast nicely with the vaporous background.
I love the mood in Laura’s watercolor. The butterfly is beautifully painted with the orange glowing and making the object dominant. The background moves from being descriptive to being abstract, which adds an interesting quality.
A very impressive use of dropping colors into wet passages. The flowers have structure but are also loose enough to have an abstract quality. The painting shifts between recognizable objects and colors that are dissolving.
The origin of this inventive painting came from Grace looking at her aunt’s aquarium and her fascination with jelly fish. The painting is a combination of all of the techniques we studied over the course of the semester but Grace, through necessity, did not have masking fluid to preserve the white paper when she applied the bright blue wash in the background, so she substituted chap stick for it. As we learned in the art history lectures, the great John Singer Sargent used wax as a resist on his paper to mask out areas in his paintings. Grace’s use of chap stick gave the painting an unusual quality.
This painting is impressive since Barbara was able to paint such a realistic figure on her own without an guidance from me. The transparency of the figure is a nice counterpoint to the dense wet on wet background.
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