Persimmon, 2012, watercolor
40 3/4 x 28 3/4 inches
Painting what you feel strongest about can be one of the most important ingredients to a successful work of art. Although it’s possible to produce appealing paintings of subjects you care little about, you are more apt to create a dynamic work when you feel a palpable response to your model. This sensation of heightened emotional familiarity can produce greater freedom of expression and give way to paintings that are more original and earnest. I call this being “close to home”, and have discovered that a wellspring of creative avenues can open up and surprise you along the way.
Twenty-one years ago I moved from Philadelphia to a small barrier island near Charleston, South Carolina. It was there that I met a group of senior Gullah women, many of whom were direct descendants of slaves. Although we had little in common, I felt a strong emotional response to these women, and a compelling desire to tell what I saw and felt in watercolor. One painting lead to another, and then another, until two decades later I discovered that I had done hundreds of paintings and drawings. More recently, I spent three and a half years traversing the south painting blue collar workers in vanishing industries, completing fifty works for a museum tour. I learned that as an artist you can never grow bored with your subject matter when it speaks to your heart.
Beekeeper's Daughter, 2008, watercolor
28 3/4 x 21 3/4 inches