The two years from 1916 to 1918 that O’Keeffe spent working as head of the art department at West Texas State College, often painting at the Palo Duo Canyon in her free time. The watercolor studies produced in this period, of both the landscape she found herself in and of her own nude figure, are at once delicate and powerful, calling on a tradition of working in the medium that began when O’Keeffe was studying.
As a small child she was taught to paint by a local watercolor artist in her hometown of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Later, in 1908, on a visit to New York, she stopped in at an exhibition of Rodin’s watercolors at Midtown gallery 291, a space owned by Alfred Stieglitz, the man who was later to become her husband and great artistic collaborator.
This period from 1916-18 was a key one in terms of her creative development. “These years mark a period of radical innovation for the artist, during which she firmly established her commitment to abstraction,” Radius explains. “O’Keeffe’s watercoloRrs explore the texture and landscape of the Texas desert and the artist’s own body in an exceptionally fragile and sensitive medium, representing a substantial achievement in their own right.”
TEXT: Maisie Skidmore
Winslow Homer, an iconic American artist, is renowned for his exceptional watercolor paintings. Born on February 24, 1836, in Boston, Massachusetts, Homer’s artistic journey began as a commercial illustrator before he transitioned into becoming one of the most celebrated watercolorists of his time.
Homer’s watercolor paintings are characterized by their masterful technique, evocative subject matter, and a deep connection to nature. He had a unique ability to capture the essence of his subjects, whether it be the power of the sea, the tranquility of rural life, or the human experience in various settings.
One of Homer’s most famous watercolor paintings is “The Gulf Stream,” completed in 1899. This masterpiece depicts a lone African-American man adrift in a small boat amidst turbulent waters, surrounded by sharks. The painting is a powerful commentary on the human struggle against the forces of nature and the inherent vulnerability of mankind. Homer’s skillful use of watercolor creates a sense of movement and drama, with the crashing waves and the menacing presence of the sharks adding to the intensity of the scene.
Another notable watercolor painting by Homer is “Snap the Whip,” completed in 1872. This work captures a group of young boys playing a game of snap the whip in a rural setting. The painting exudes a sense of joy, freedom, and innocence, as the boys run and laugh in the golden light of the setting sun. Homer’s watercolor technique beautifully captures the play of light and shadow, as well as the energy and movement of the children.
Homer’s watercolor paintings have had a profound impact on the art world and continue to inspire artists today. His ability to convey emotion, capture the essence of a moment, and create a sense of atmosphere through his brushstrokes is what sets his work apart. His watercolors are a testament to his mastery of the medium and his deep understanding of the human experience.
Winslow Homer’s watercolor paintings have been exhibited in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, and his contributions to the art world have been widely recognized. His ability to capture the beauty and complexity of the natural world, as well as the human condition, has solidified his place as one of the greatest watercolorists in history.
In conclusion, Winslow Homer’s watercolor paintings are a testament to his artistic genius and his ability to capture the essence of his subjects. Through his skillful use of the medium, he brings to life scenes that evoke emotion, tell stories, and invite viewers to contemplate the beauty.
The watercolor style of painting is characterized by its transparent and fluid nature, creating a delicate and luminous effect. Artists who work in this style use watercolor paints, which are made by mixing pigments with a water-based binder. The paint is applied to paper using brushes, and the water content allows for a range of techniques and effects.
One of the defining features of watercolor painting is its transparency. Unlike opaque mediums like oil or acrylic, watercolors allow light to pass through the layers of paint, creating a luminous quality. This transparency also allows for layering and glazing techniques, where multiple washes of color are built up to create depth and richness.
Watercolor paintings often have a soft and ethereal quality, with colors blending and bleeding into one another. This creates a sense of spontaneity and unpredictability, as the paint can sometimes have a mind of its own. Artists must learn to embrace and control this fluidity, using techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and dry brushing to achieve different effects.
The watercolor style is particularly well-suited for capturing the beauty of landscapes, botanical illustrations, and atmospheric scenes. The delicate washes and subtle color transitions can evoke a sense of tranquility and serenity. However, watercolors can also be used in a variety of other subjects and styles, from portraits to abstract compositions.
Working with watercolors requires a certain level of skill and control, as the paint can be challenging to manipulate. Artists must learn to balance the right amount of water and pigment, as well as understand the drying time and the effects of different paper surfaces. However, this medium also offers a sense of freedom and spontaneity, as the unpredictable nature of watercolors can lead to unexpected and beautiful results.
Overall, the watercolor style of painting is beloved for its unique characteristics, including its transparency, fluidity, and luminosity. It offers artists a wide range of techniques and effects, allowing for the creation of delicate and ethereal artworks that capture the beauty of the world around us.