Several months ago I decided to focus (for now at least) full-time on my artwork. Since then, maybe in the spirit of this new-found freedom, I've been using watercolors to depict aerial views of imaginary islands - unconstrained by photography or specific memories. I'm taking this unbounded approach one step further by largely letting the medium do its own thing (which watercolor tends to do), guided by the technique of scratching the paper with my fingernails to encourage the paint to flow and pool in unpredictable ways that happen to resemble rocks or vegetation. As a result, I'm finding myself a lot more at ease as I create these works than I was during my oil painting phase, even as I relinquish some of the control that I yearn to exert by inventing these environments to begin with. I always experienced the oil painting as more of a design/intellectual process than as an opportunity for emotional expression or release, and I realize now that I probably need both. The watercolors, so far, are doing a better job as a happy medium (no pun intended).
In one important sense I am still treating some of the watercolors as design projects, imposing structure on unruly places - by incorporating trail networks and a few pieces of architecture with associated outdoor spaces. (These interventions are also allowing me to keep the design impulses busy, and much happier than when they were when constrained to real projects in the office.) I'm taking an additional cue from the design process by overlaying portions of the paintings with topography, circulation and architectural components drawn in pen on clear plastic.
SF Open Studios 2016 is coming up this weekend, and my exhibit will focus on "Saucer Island," depicted in a series of scaled enlargements like a typical landscape architectural design.