The ocean's surface is a magical place that shifts constantly, changes colour at the will of a cloud or sun and can be calm or wild. That moving surface that becomes one is fascinating and open to so much interpretation. So much of my work has been tight and controlled to date, but I've found that painting water forces me to loosen up and it almost happens without much direction from me. However fine detail still draws me in and makes me want to create the realistic surface that water provides. Its tangible, yet slips through your hand becoming formless. Light, wind and tides give it shape, but it remains shapeless.
For some time I have been drawn to the work of Vija Celmins and have spent a long time studying her intensely detailed work of ocean, sky and earth. I wanted to create a piece that explores the ocean surface in detail, rather like the work of Celmins.
In the late 1960s, Celmins started working mostly with a graphite pencil. Her subjects became increasingly selective until her work became almost entirely images of the surface of the ocean, night skies, and the surface of the desert, with small stones and pebbles rendered in great detail.
Waves II 5 x 10 watercolour
Celmins received international attention early in her career for her renditions of natural scenes, often painted from photographs lacking a point of reference, horizon, or discernible depth of field. These attempts at the ocean surface aren't detailed as in Celmins work, but her influence and the appeal is there for me to continue to develop a more detailed surface.
I want to take that almost abstract section of water and make it come alive. I know that this level of realism may not be feasible on a large scale, such as a full sheet because of the time commitment it would involve, so I may try with smaller studies at first to see if the process makes me entirely crazy or not. I want to try mixed media and paint the ocean's surface on a larger scale, perhaps a full sheet of watercolour paper. Maybe a watercolour base and coloured pencil to pull out details.
This interview with Vija Celmins gives an insight into her vision and her work. I love her reality of outlook on the process of making art.