To Read, Perchance To Dream

Today’s watercolor experiment:

I took my own advice from yesterday and tried to combine the square, frame-like organization with a more organic (meaning smooth or natural), looser composition.

I began painting today, as yesterday, with simple, flat brushstrokes. Today, I allowed the horizontal ultramarine blue and Winsor red swaths, painted at the top of the picture plane to interact; I repeated this procedure on the bottom of the plane. The red/blue, upper and lower horizontal swaths were connected by extending these still-wet areas with the edge of one inch flat brush, to complete a frame structure.

After drying in sunlight, I progressed to the ‘organic’ phase of my design.

I was very pleased with the single-line drawing of my grieving person in my study, Grief. I incorporated a similar element in today’s experiment, superimposing it upon the frame I just completed. I washed the interior of this shape, and the overlying frame, with Indian yellow.

I was very interested in where this composition was leading me. I had the sense that the frame was something to look through, a window, perhaps. My imagination did not follow me along that path, however.

As the organic shape I constructed was originally used to represent a person, I used the dark indanthrone blue, with a small brush, to sketch in some eyebrows on the wet background. This was the point that crystallized the rest of the design. It was exciting.

Watercolor: Abstract - Book-like frame overlaid on closed eyes of an underlying figure

To Read, Perchance To Dream
9″x12″ 140# Cold Pressed Watercolor Block


The most remarkable part of this study was the tipping point between executing a premise and completing a vision. The purpose of my watercolor studies is to find a way to express something I feel. I started this one with a simple premise: to combine rectilinear and organic design elements.  But when I inserted the two marks that anthropomorphized the organic shape, everything changed. The eyebrows became closed eyelids, the frame became an open book. I was reminded of the joy of reading and how, frequently, my imagination would take over and I would drift off into a dream that continued the narrative of the book.

Process notes:

After the revelation of the eyebrows, I tackled the problem of the text on the book. Initially I thought of transferring text from pages of an actual book. It would have been perfect. The transferred print would be backward, just as it should be if we, as viewers were looking through it at the dreaming reader.  I heard that alcohol would be a good solvent, so I soaked a page of one of my science fiction magazines in my Jameson’s Irish Whisky (not the good stuff). Unfortunately, it did not work.  I had to satisfy myself with my own scribbled nonsense text.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: