My natural tendency is to think in images rather than in words, and my paintings are expressions of those thoughts. The foundation for my work is the intended concept, or idea, which derives from my unique perception of the world. When a concept forms, I explore it for years by creating a series of paintings that result in concept expansion and nuanced meanings. The lexicon I use for expression includes not only the common morphemes such as the elements and principles of design, but also a hybrid vocabulary of unique and unusual combinations that support the concept. Each series varies in duration and significance, and may occur simultaneously with another.
The Laws of Nature is a series of watercolor paintings that began in 2010 and is ongoing. My intent is to comment on the natural physical laws that constrain man’s attempt to harness and utilize the energy and materials of the universe. These constraints make impossible our quest to build the “perfect machine” that operates by perpetual motion. Each painting within the series provides an aesthetic interpretation of an individual physical law.
Painted in watercolor as mechanical mindscapes, I rely entirely upon my imagination and intuition to design and paint without the aid of physical models or referenced images. Each new work begins with lengthy contemplation about a particular physical law producing mental images that transform literal meaning into an aesthetic abstracted one.
In order to capture the imagined abstracted image I quickly draft it onto watercolor paper in less than two hours. Every form and detail that will be painted is recorded in the line drawing at this stage. Once the drawing is complete, I select only three or four watercolor pigments to unite the complex design. During the painting process, pathways for the eye to follow are established by imposing color temperature and value on the forms. The painting stage must be rapid since my process is intuition-based.
The superior physical qualitiies of the watercolor medium are effective for creating luminosity and textural manipulations necessary for this series. Each painting is approximately 26” x 20” in size, and twenty-four works presently comprise this ongoing series.
- Katharine A. Cartwright, NWS