Monday, September 21, 2009

Wayne Roberts - l' Art de l' Aquarelle

The second issue of l'Art de l' Aquarelle is coming out soon with an article about Wayne Roberts. I was honored to write for that feature a small tribute, translation below. This issue will be entirely in French, but after that there will be an English version of the magazine available.

When I got back into watercolor six years ago, I spent a lot of time scouring the Internet to learn what had happened during my absence, and who was doing what. It didn’t take me long to discover Wayne Roberts, and when I did, it was something of an epiphany. Here was an artist who was pushing the limits of the medium, not just technically, but even more importantly, in terms of imagination and creativity. He seemed to be able to paint any subject in virtually any style, abstract to representational, at the highest levels. Rather than settling into one comfortable, formulaic approach -- a trap that countless artists succumb to -- he was “all over the map,” and in a way that suggested not superficiality, but rather, profound breadth. I revere this quality because to me the finest artists are explorers. Wayne is a tireless explorer who has blazed trails I had never seen in water media. As if that weren’t enough, I realized that some of the best ideas I ever had for a painting, Wayne Roberts had already done! And done so well, there was no point in my even trying. I started referring to him as The World’s Most Dangerous Man With a Brush.

How does he do it? I believe that artists of this caliber are born, not made. However, something more has to account for this kind of genius. Wayne’s deep interest in science, mathematics, medicine, and music keeps his mind in a constant state of assimilation and heightened awareness, which at any moment might channel a thought or emotion through the pen, the violin, or the paintbrush. Wayne’s insatiable curiosity about the world is reflected in his paintings, which deal with concepts of the large and small; the dark and light; the celestial and terrestrial; the spiritual and physical. As a musician myself, I was fascinated to learn that Wayne has devoted years to an ever-evolving work, The Principles of Nature, which, based on my understanding, is a sort of Unification Theory combining the mysteries of music and visual art through scientific analysis. This is something that has occupied my mind for many years, but I didn’t have the slightest notion how to go about organizing or expressing it. This type of monumental work is best left to the bona fide Renaissance Men of the world. Wayne Roberts is such a person, and I feel truly privileged to behold his many astonishing and unique talents.

For information regarding subscription email Sonia Seince at

See the No. 1 issue July-September post.


Anders Andersson said...

Yes can’t agree more, he is so dam good that it take your breath away. Stunning!

Lori Barton said...

It's artist like you and Mr. Roberts that make me realize again how dern little I know...and that makes me smile.

W. K. Moore said...

First thing I thought of was your daughter... looks like her a bit. Nice wordsmithing Mr. Simmons. Wayne will be quite pleased to read the copy to be sure. You must have been in school when they still taught grammar, syntax, etc. How's the penmanship? Glad you decided to rejoin the watercolor world... you make it a much more colorful place ...

perugina said...

NNG, thank you for writing such a wonderful article about Wayne Roberts, your respect and esteem for him shines through and is beautifully expressed artists of this calibre are born, not made. a man who in this world you are truly blessed to know.
Wayne Roberts the artist, the musician, scientist, mathematician, writer, and list goes on..
His gifts are a gift to this world!
We are privileged to know and live in his time.

wayne said...

Nick, firstly, thanks so much for taking the initiative to write so incredibly kindly on my behalf! Too kindly. I know that I can't possibly fill the large shoes you have painted in words! I also know there are other artists around these blogs who also hold an "insatiable curiosity about the world", a deep interest in the 'interconnectedness of things', and who have immense creativity, knowledge, varied backgrounds, technical facility, and innumerable ways to express themselves as artists.. And you are an outstanding example!!

As regards my musical 'accomplishments', i think (rather, I know) you score far more highly than I! Your recent teaming up with the famed guitar virtuoso Manuel Barrueco is but one eminent example. Another is the fact that you taught guitar to both Pete Sampras and Monica Seles! Then there's the 'Tommy Bolin connection' and your artwork for his Signature guitar (a year or so ago)... and the list goes on. You have performed on guitar (are most adept at improvising), and have written numerous compositions! (The NS-factor looms large!)

Re: the forthcoming article in L'Art de l'Aquarelle, I tried to write quite a lot on various technical aspects of transparent watercolour. Guess I was wanting to share some things about watercolour I'd learnt over many years mainly through repeated errors and some (eventual) successes. i would have liked to have written more about my thoughts on *art* more generally, but you seem to have already opened 'a window to the Milky Way' on my behalf, so thanks once again! (hyperbole ↔ espresso!)

Your own visual art is rapidly rewriting the aquamedia history books! Your recent Gold Medal in 2009 international PWS is yet another award you've deservedly won. There's a color and freedom of spirit you have, that, combined with humor and 'a willingness to go with the flow', is reflected in your color-expressive free-flowing visual art and improvisational ability.

Nick you've been far too self-effacing in what you wrote about me! We, who follow and admire your art, know that you are a giant in contemporary aquamedia art, highly intelligent, proactive. We also know you're kind and generous in a strong way: defending and helping friends and standing up for what you believe in.
All the best for Europe, exhibition, and say hi to all from me,
Thanks again & cheers

David Burge said...

Wow Nick, that is a very well written statement.
Generous, but true.
Gives a fellow water painters perspective perfectly.
WR gets what he deserves!

Janet Belich said...

Total agreement here on all accounts.
I too, appreciate your well writen words, Nick. I bet you can even diagram sentences. ;)

Tonya Vollertsen said...

Wow, thanks! I looked him up ...everything you said! I'm taking your advise and getting out more. So many wonderful creative people to see! This always seems a good place to start. Thanks again, Cheers, Tonya

Sandy said...

What a wonderful tribute to Wayne Roberts Nick! It is so beautifully written and covers the multitude of skills that can be attributed to this artist.
I also think that it takes an artist such as you, to fully appreciate and understand the breadth of his talents "It takes one to know one"

Nick said...

Anders - I concur!

Lori - my realm of knowledge doesn't extend much beyond watercolor painting and music and the NYT crossword. Wayne is the brain!

WKM - electronic communication and the internet are the tools these days, but a lot of people forget you still have to put one word in front of another. I think this typing/writing business has told us a lot about the state of affairs, and I fear it doesn't bode well for the future!

PG - you people are well-removed from us geographically, maybe that's the secret!

Wayne - your thank-you is longer than my WR tribute! ha ha You've been a huge influence and source of inspiration, you'll always have an eager audience here for whatever you're doing. Once in a while I actually feel as though something has broken through the old bean, and can glimpse a sliver of what you see with clear wide vision. It's like looking at those pics from the Hubble! I can't wait to see the magazine, and really can't wait to meet you one of these days. :)

Dake - thanks for the post, and thanks for being part of the modern Aussie watercolor freight train of progress. And good to have you Facebook!!

Janet- working on that now as a matter of fact

Tonya - so I might bump into you in the Egyptian Room or the Automat?

Sandy - nice to see you, and Larissa thanks you for remembering and the very nice card :)

joel said...

wow Nick! such a nice and powerful piece of writing! a true and faithful tribute to a man of great talent who we are lucky to know.

wouldn't it be cool if we could sneak off somewhere and form a "school" and just wile our way away in a desert (or something) just painting........

-- joel.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,
I just bought the magazine today and read the article.
Thank you for making us discover the talentuous Wayne Roberts in Europe ! I think it is the first time that I read an article about him and his works in a French magazine.

David Burge said...

Just take a look at his latest piece and weep

Liliana Lucki said...

Eres un gran artista.

No termino de entender tu blog.

Las películas...guiones???? Una mezcla de talentos.

Me gustan tus acuarelas.Mucho !!!

Saluda desde Argentina Liliana

Tonya Vollertsen said...

You're a funny guy! Um,...or is there really an Egyptian room...? Thanks for the tip on the could have spilled that bit of information a little sooner! LOL! Thanks for the comments, really nice of you to take the time!

Nick said...

Joel - you're another of the thinking artists whose ideas go deeper than the first wash. As Dake just mentioned, check out Wayne's latest on his blog!

Catherine - nice to meet you, thanks for posting..and I just saw your very interesting blog.

Dake - a fine example of Wayne's ability to see the bigger picture!

Liliana - thanks so much for the kind words, and I'm very impressed with your work!

Tonya - even at 800 pixels, I'm not sure it will all fit into an iPhone...but while in the Egyptian Room, you should be perusing the mummies anyway