Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sunshine and light

First of all, I want to thank each one of you who left comments on my previous post, and on Urban Sketchers - I was bowled over by the warmth, empathy and defensive outrage that supportively flooded my inbox, as well as from friends who phoned and emailed. It really made a bitter pill easier to glug down and reminds me again that most people are good, very good - kind and loving. Thank you, thank you! After a period of adrenaline over-supply, in which I cleaned and scrubbed and sorted, came a few days of exhaustion and resignation, and then a pull towards colour, light, innocence and freedom from care and worry. I found an old black and white photo of myself taken on Grotto Beach, Hermanus in the Cape - one of very few photos of me as a child - that perfectly encapsulated those qualities for me, and tried to paint it in colour... well anxiety and watercolour didn't mix too well - my flat washes were anything but, my figure was murky (left), but I quite liked the way the umbrellas and loose figures came out on the beach. I tried the girl figure again (right), and started a new painting with all together on a clean sheet of paper, which must be old and heat damaged (my studio bakes in summer), as it just sucked up the paint and allowed nothing to flow at all. So I resorted to Photopaint and put the cleaner figure on the beach (below), and then flattened and intensified my sky and darkened the figure in the shadow - in the top painting. If only one could manipulate life (and watercolour) so easily!
After this exercise I'm looking forward more than ever to Hazel Soan's workshop next month, in which the aim will be to maintain fresh vibrant watercolour, with immediacy, boldness, liveliness - with strong depth of colour and light and shade - I know I've had moments in watercolour where I've achieved some of that, but it all seems to have escaped me right now - roll on March 15th!

15 comments:

Ginny Stiles said...

old paper.
I am really worried about what you said about the heat affecting paper. I have 3 pieces of 300# cold pressed paper that have been in my studio for a few summers here in FL (where it gets 90+ in my studio I am sure.
I am planning to use these in an Anne Abgott workshop in a few weeks and I am sick to hear that you found the heat had damaged your paper. I thought about that but dismissed it. Now I think I better cut off a piece and try it out. I'd be sick to pay all that $ for a workshop and NOT have paper suitable! I wonder if anyone else has had heat damage on paper? I really will be bummed as I paid a lot for that 300# paper!!! It must be the sizing that reacts to the heat?

Cathy Gatland said...

Hi Ginny - I can't be sure if it's the heat, the age, or the paper itself... this was a pad of Bockingford. It happened to me before and Laura('s Watercolors) suggested the sizing had been affected by age. But I have some Arches and Fabriano that has been under my bed for years and years, and is still absolutely fine - doesn't get as hot though. I would test a bit in case - I do hope it's all right for your workshop!

Cathy said...

This is so fresh and pure!!! I love this harsh light, the bright colours! It's so summery! Your crowd at the back and the umbrellas look so nice!!!

Carol King said...

What a lovely sight, your watercolors on the beach. The shadows, sun on the sand and the figures and the bright blue sky (with or without photoshop)shimmer with light.

And you are adorable.


Now I must go and put on layers and layers, boots, hat, scarf, coat to brave the knee high snow out there.

Pat said...

I can see the changes in each piece but I like something about everyone. I really like the glow of the first one and simplicity of the last one.
I love that you are being nurtured.

Debbie said...

Hello Cathy

So sorry to hear you were also a victim of crime here in Johannesburg..... I think although we never get it out of our heads, be learn to live with the way things are here, and why should we!!! Hope you are Ok now.

Love the sunshine painting of you as a child. I also want to send you a little Sunshine Award for your blog, hop over and take a look on my blog for instructions. Thanks for being so inspiring, I really enjoy your work!

http://debadoodle.blogspot.com/

Regards

Debbie

Maree said...

Hi Cathy, you have been awarded the SUNSHINE AWARD - please go to my blog to check out the details! http://artandcreativity-maree.blogspot.com/2010/03/sunshine-award.html

Regards, Maree

Vivienne said...

Ah - I know that photo, and the lovely little girl in it, so well, and the painting just adds to it. Still so sweet, and talented and tenacious... but it is no wonder you're feeling "off your stroke".
Hazel Soan will be wonderful. I have seen her work in a w/c book I have here, as well as in your books.

Art with Liz said...

My gosh Cathy, I'm only catching up now and what an awful time you've had of it with that burglary and your car being stolen. I find it so incredible the way you are handling it!

Your work is always so wonderful, both as artworks and as stories, and this Hermanus pic is delightful. And I am soooo jealous - Hazel Soan is absolutely my favourite watercolourist. She did a demo for us here in CT and she is brilliant. Enjoy enjoy enjoy.

A Brush with Color said...

Love the final product here--how fabulous! Your umbrellas are so light and whimsical. I particularly like the way that jaunty red and white striped one is leaning. How lovely.

Isabel said...

beautiful and so warm

Gillian said...

So happy to see this post! Like VP I know this photo so well (and clearly remember the jaloers that the beach photographer didn't take one of MOI with that well known little sun brolly of our Mom's. But monkey faced, red hair, lily white, freckled, bone thin - not as photogenic as this cute tousled haired Coppertone little girl!!) Instant nostalgia, so many happy mems at Grotto Beach! I find I enjoy all four sketches - so fun, innocent and refreshing.

jyothisethu said...

cathy,
went through the posting...
good pictures and the story...
congratulations...

africantapestry said...

Cathy, I read the previous post and saw the horrible drama you had to live through...I am so sorry...I have so much comprehension. I am happy though to see your colourful sketches in this post..a little bit of fighting back and not letting it win you..
I apologize for my scarcity around the art blogs, I will soon be back in action and comment more regularly...until then...
bisous
ronelle xx

laura said...

Absolutely charming, Cathy--I love the end result; and thanks for sharing your process ... I have such a pile of watercolor paper--I really need to start painting more and faster!--and often have the same problem; my house gets very hot and humid in summer--I often wonder if that, or just age, affects the sizing. Regardless, it's just so frustrating not knowing ahead of time how any given piece of paper will act!