13 October 2009

The Lifeboat

56cm x 76cm, 300gsm Lanaquarelle cold-pressed paper
Winner of the 1996 Paul Schwartz Memorial Award,
American Watercolor Society, New York

I decided to show this transparent full-sheet watercolor here on my blog for several reasons.
1) It seemed to resonate with the spirit of LVB9 (see artwork several posts below)
2) Every so often artists produce works they almost "recognise", like a kind of déjà vu, but not exactly so. This happened for me in the above watercolor.
3) Imo there seems to have entered into the blogosphere a notion that 'new is better' and that we must be seen to be constantly updating and 'moving forward'. This can conceivably create all sorts of anxieties be they large or small.

In this watercolor, painted directly and interactively to wet paper without preliminary drawing, I imagined the storm as somehow providing the very rescue needed, the emblematic lifeboat, in a palmar upward thrust of sea amongst the surrounding turbulence. [Figures in this painting would have been superfluous and would have detracted from the symbolism of the lifeboat. The rescued figures are emblematically inferred.]

The Lifeboat, to me, resounds with Beethoven's 9th. But here I've decided to relate the Lifeboat painting to an entirely different kind of music (see YouTube vid immediately below): a song by the Australian band The Black Sorrows, "Hold on to Me". The lyric connects all: The rescued, ..rescuing.
No room on the lifeboat, you can hold on to me.


Catherine said...

Great philosophy and symbolism. I love the drama and contrasts in this watercolor. The turbulence of the waves is beautifully rendered, almost real.
Thanks for sharing !

David Burge said...

Yeah, I enjoy the the Black Sorrows. Great song!
I do recall particular gig in Perth back in the early 90s at a smallish club. A memorable night.

David Burge said...

Of course this painting: "The Lifeboat" first became etched into my psyche back in the mid 90s I think. I saw it in The Australian Artist Magazine with a painting of Linda as I recall,( the one that won the W&N award). I've considered "The Lifeboat" one of the greatest watercolour seascapes.
Terrific to see it again!
I also agree with you about the anxiety surrounding the notion that change=qualitative value.

Thanks for posting this painting and both of these two vid links. Especially Herbie and Pat et al.

wayne said...

Hi Catherine, it's lovely of you to leave a comment on this watercolour, and, so promptly. Thank you! The work 'came together', as watercolours sometimes do! I had a feeling that the stars, the God, the Universe was somehow through me and that I was nothing.
Thanks again Catherine,

PS I hope what I've written above makes at least some sense. [NB I've only been drinking de l'eau, et café au lait! ]

wayne said...

Hi David,
Re The Black Sorrows song "Hold on to Me" is definitely my favourite of theirs. Like you, I've also heard them live but I preferred the studio version of this particular song. I love that riff that recurs under the main theme/lyric. I guess the visuals of the vid don't exactly sync with my painting(!), but that chorus surely does!

Re your 2nd comment, thank you again for going to extra lengths in adding such kind words. If a fellow artist like yourself considers The Lifeboat to be one of the greatest watercolour seascapes, then I am happy!! There seems to be no need for elaborating explanations regarding technique and the like because of feelings similar to those expressed in my reply to Catherine's comment.

What I can say, and that may be of interest to some, is that I conceived of and thought about the composition, tossed ideas around my head, for about three months beforehand. I formed the image in mind. I knew I wanted to paint a full-sheet watercolour completely wet-in-wet from start to finish in one sitting, with intense darks (but no black pigments) and striking lights (no white paint). I knew it would be very difficult. I thought about the paper and pigments. Everything.

One day, I remember driving home at dusk . I even remember the quality of light and the form of the clouds. Taking glances at the beautiful sky, i made a sudden intuitive decision: I was going home and would paint the work immediately. I went to my small studio and in less than two hours produced The Lifeboat. I rested it on the studio floor. It seemed to say what I wanted it to say. Or, maybe, the other way round, I had said what it wanted me to say. It's a most bizarre feeling. And I really cannot adequately put this feeling into words.

sandra flood said...

This is just gorgeous. The lighting is masterful!

wayne said...

Hi Sandra,
I appreciate your kind words, and your commenting on the light.
I greatly admire your own art and encourage other visitors here to peruse Sandra's website. (Refer to "Sandra Flood" link in the margin.)
Again, thank you Sandra,
Best wishes,

Nick said...

Wow, mate Dake, my new friend Catherine, and Sandra Flood - this is where the action is! Glad to finally get the story behind this one, and somehow I'm not surprised it was done in a rush. And also how close the sea is to the mountains when you start looking at those contained shapes/passages instead of the "thing." But it is all connected I reckon, and you know that better than anyone. I do recall studying it the first time I saw it on your site, looking to see if there was a saved soul within, and then realizing -- embarrassed -- that would have been completely superfluous.

wayne said...

Hi Nick, and thx so much again for your kind comment. I'm glad you gleaned something from 'the story' (the speed factor) as to how this work came together. I do feel a special attachment to this piece (even though it's in a private collection). The connection and similarity between marine and mountain forms is indeed curious and wonderful.
The boat, although figurative, is abstract. Beyond the plane of the picture, beyond 3D space, beyond time...
Nick sincere thanks once again for adding your usual astute and colorful insights!
Cheers & Best wishes,

W. K. Moore said...

Terrific job Wayne. You handle water scenes with a real artist's touch. The dark roiling around the periphery transitioning to the center light where the protagonist persists and does what a boat does best - float. – sets an atmosphere of drama and sublime tension. This is quite an allegory.. a tribute to what is.

wayne said...

Hi WK, Thank you for your very kind comment. I'm amazed (as usual) at your artful connection of several ideas within a few words>> "protagonist-boat-float" and especially the words ".. an allegory .. a tribute to what is." Thank you for seeing this here.
best wishes,

<<Kindness zig zags back
whence it came

MeredithJean said...

This is such a powerful work, I love it, and feel it's force and need. There is clearly a lot of territory within you which has been blanked by fear. How wonderful that you can expunge it bit by bit with your creativity. And share it. Thank you.

wayne said...

Hi Meredith,
Thank you for visiting and for your comment. Glad you found something positive in the painting. Best wishes, w