on the surface, water paintings

six water paintings on the wall in my studio, acrylic on linen canvas (20cm x 20cm). i took a couple of these small paintings along to an informal ‘show and tell‘ this weekend. even though these have no discernable surface texture someone said they were most definitely my work (it must be a pattern thing)…

abstract painting water surface

it would be wrong to call these small paintings studies of water. i did not refer to any external or photographic sources for these paintings. they are derived (and intentionally so) from the experiential process of painting and from my memory and imagination…

abstract painting water patterns

i was thinking about waves in all their forms (as one sees and experiences them) – ripples on the surface of the water, water flowing over denuded rocks, stones and pebbles, the curling branches of a contorted willow tree, the pattern of willow bark, even waves of hair…

during the painting process i kept thinking back to the river, of trying to see beneath the glassy, rippling surface, the swirling current and flow of water below, going under the surface and looking up to the sunlight (and air) – this could be a beautiful vision or a dangerous thing.

i was also reminded of leonardo da vinci’s many drawing studies of the movement and flow of water (which seem to have an intriguing hair-like quality about them). the following night i had a strange dream in which my hair was cut very short…

leonardo da vinci, studies of water, c.1510-13 © The Royal Collection

her majesty, the queen, her royal highness, hrh the queen, or just elizabeth II (if you prefer), has quite a lot of leonardo da vinci drawings in her art collection…

but not this one (a self-portrait of the great genius, a scientist, philosopher, inventor and artist)…

self-portrait, leonardo da vinci © Royal Library, Turin

‘water wears away the mountains and fills the valleys. if it had the power, it would reduce the earth to a perfect sphere’
[leonardo da vinci]

these are two of my eroded earth discs (as mentioned in a previous post)… there are bits missing; they have weathered to imperfection…

eroded weathed disc

eroded weathed disc

if you see any connections between these eroded discs and the water surface paintings shown behind them, then i would be most interested to hear about them…

‘in time and with water, everything changes’
[leonardo da vinci]

major setback of the week: autosave with no option of a reversion

minor irritation of the week: flashing ‘low battery’ warnings

small delight of the week: harvesting fresh peas from the garden

current exhibitions

Reunion Refresh @ Reunion Gallery, 5 Feb – 22 Oct 2011

HWAT exhibition 2011 @ Harleston Gallery, 18 June to 11 July 2011


  1. Jazz
    Posted July 4, 2011 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    notes to self: projected, reconfigured, reimagined, reframed, reformed, reduced, separate, displacement, hermetic, denial, detachment, seizure, cessation, suspension, containment, controlled, improvised, random, chance, speculate, conditional, unconditional, offering, planned, authored, action, sequence, reaction, intuition, awareness, consciousness, thought, knowledge, transferral, experience, reflection, decision, revision, change, fluidity, movement, stasis, stillness…

  2. charlie
    Posted July 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    hmm. I think Joseph Campbell and Mircea Eliade have written about water and its sybolism. ‘Water is pre-eminently the slayer; it dissolves, abolishes all form.’ Water seems to symbolise the universal sum of possibilities, dissolution (into water) is followed by rebirth (out of water). It cannot become form *itself* as it is formless. For me, and the myths that interest me, the circle can represent the eternal return, of these possibilities recurring. It is interestign that everythign returns to a cyclical shape and that the planets, their trajectory and atoms all share cylindrical / oval forms.

  3. Jazz
    Posted July 13, 2011 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    thanks for that, charlie…

    leonardo da vinci, in his writings, had expressed similar ideas (as indicated in the quotes) – water as life giver and taker, it can quench or poison, forming and destroying landscape, a force that variously accretes and erodes, deposits and denudes, endlessly altering the life/form/matter of all things…

    water, as the transformative agent, the association with purification or rejuvenation, and a requirement for life, germination, growth, sustenance, implies the cyclical/eternal/universal aspect…

    elliptical is perhaps what you meant by ‘cylindrical’..?

    put very flippantly, what goes around comes around – an alternative to process-driven ‘artspeak’ – (see notes to self)…

  4. debra
    Posted August 1, 2011 at 3:29 am | Permalink

    i have a habit of seeing art bits within art, and as a budding (read: very very green) artist it has recently come to my attention to use a mirror or cropping to see within a project in development.

    what struck me immediately was looking through your disk at the water behind (below was how i felt it)…what i saw was clouds. a very elemental composition, cropping here and there would lead to more.

    beautiful work, thank you.

  5. Jazz
    Posted August 2, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    thank you so much for your comment… seeing above/below and looking within are interesting concepts (i seem to have done a fair amount of cloud and water gazing)

    i think i unavoidably contain/crop images in my mind before i begin making something, perhaps denying the usual rules of pictorial space & perspective and considering more the outward ‘objectiveness’ of the art as my true lens on things – but deep water and the infinity of sky seem to be the ultimate challenges in painting… so much to ponder on, many thanks