In June of this year, a small group of artists from Hawaii, Canada and California traveled to Ecuador to see for ourselves the homeland of Mary Dikon, one of our friends who invited us to come there. We spent the next two weeks dividing our time between taking in the culture and sights and sketching.
The focus of the trip was to learn as much as we could about our art by first looking and then drawing, principally with watercolor. The idea was in effect to make a journal, a story line that reflected our thoughts and visions. Although watercolor is usually thought of as a painting medium, we wanted to think in terms of lines. Lines tell stories, they start somewhere and end somewhere.
The intention was that each image would have a defined set of movements that touch on a moment of observation and thought. These moments were then strung together, picking up colors and nuances along the way until they came back to where the composition started. It was drawing with color. We were trying to redefine the idea of of what technique is. Rather than following a prescribed set of rules, we tried to see in terms of process. It is the way one thinks that is important.
The watercolor medium does not forgive mistakes. Everything must be done correctly the first time because it is the paper itself that is the light. The paper fibers must be seen not covered by the paint. We embraced this limitation and decided that only a single pass and a single layer of paint on the surface would be allowed. In this way, we would maximize the luminosity and freshness of the art work. Embracing drawing as a means and as a metaphor, has opened us to the joy of gesture.
Every kid loves to draw, but we forget this passion as we grow up and are taught that there is a “right” way where everything must conform to certain norms. At its core, drawing is just dancing, moving through time and space with our bodies. It is a pleasure and not a chore. We can draw with our eyes, with our minds as well as with our hands. When we draw with watercolors, we are moving like a river, flowing seamlessly from passage to passage. What can be more alive than this, to touch on what we see, how we feel, what we are thinking and how we move?
Ecuador is just a place that happens to be high in the Andes and full of people with a proud and distinctive culture. For us, it was an eye opener. We did not just pass through like so many other tourists. We participated in the culture, dancing with the indigenous people during their Summer Solstice festival, getting to know them, and observing closely their mountain home. And through it all, we drew with pencils, pens watercolors, words and cameras.
Please join us as we show some of our work at the Honolulu Museum of Art School in the Hallway Gallery
opening on Thursday November 16th, from 5.30-7.30pm.