Reminiscent of Cabanel
Watercolor on Masa Paper, 10.5x.75"
I thought this piece had the look of Cabanel's Birth of Venus, in the pose, not in the materials or the execution. Cabanel and his Victorian audience would be horrified by effects produced by watercolor on wet masa paper. He wouldn't paint like I do either. I work directly with no preliminary drawing; no studies. Eek! He would never present a watercolor as a work of art. Though I paint with oils and acrylics, I consider watercolor to be my first medium. My drawings are rare in comparison to my output with watercolor. For me watercolor has largely replaced drawing.
There are still those who scoff at watercolors and insist they are mere sketches. I really get pissed off by that attitude. Watercolors have been fully accepted as complete works of art since J. M. W. Turner created techniques that revolutionized the medium.
I, however, am delighted with this little painting! This is so much more interesting than a precisely painted figure of the academic kind. I find that, when looking through Cabanel's ouvre, I get bored by the repetition of poses and the sameness of the application. That kind of consistency, while valued by his very conservative audience then, has no allure for me now, 150 years later.
Things unacceptable in the 19th century are the things I prize about this tiny piece. I love soft edges, the indications of paint crawling from one area to another and the fading out of certain features. I am always taken by surprise by the development of effects as the paper dries. That's the fun! It's the 'what if' factor. The play with materials and the accumulation of experience, from making one painting after another, makes the artistic process. It allows the flow of ideas from one piece to another. It's never the same each time nor should it be.