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.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Seneffe, Belgium Exhibition

I'm privileged to be exhibiting next month in the Seneffe, Belgium watercolor expo. Janine Gallizia, Joseph Zbukvic, Xavier Swolfs, Marc Folly and Stéphane Heurion will be participating, and I'm going over to meet them for the opening, October 16. The show runs through October 25, during which time I'll be going to Spain to meet with many friends from the Hispacuarela website, as well as doing research for a commission. I can't wait!

However, a few folks are bound to be less than enthusiastic about my involvement in this exhibition, as you'll see by clicking on the video below! Hope you enjoy it, feel free to rate and comment. :)

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Katherine's World

Quite possibly the best part of the artistic life is the people you meet along the way. The shared interest in beauty and bringing beauty into the world, forges friendships that last among those who are true to the calling. Nobody knows this better than Katherine Lollar Rowland, a woman whose life has been dedicated to art, artists, and a search for the answer to the question of "Who am I?"

I'm so happy to have reconnected with Katherine after many years, and very touched to be remembered in her new book, Katherine's World.

This follows her 2006 memoir, A Painter and His Wife, which chronicled her life with her husband, Elden Rowland, and his pursuit to become a fine artist -- which he achieved with Katherine loyally at his side, and in a way that would be impossible to do in this day and age. I soaked that story up, as I learned so much about their inspiring saga, and it made numerous references to the burgeoning art community of Sarasota, Florida, starting in the 1940s.

The new work is an answered prayer for me, documenting the history and notable people connected with the Sarasota scene, particularly through and beyond the period when it was responsible for my own entrance into the painting world.

Katherine's expert running of the Hilton Leech Studio and formation of the Friends of the Two Arts and Sciences in Sarasota attracted renowned artists and photographers, among others, to visit, teach, and host a number of expeditions to adventurous ports of call. It would be no exaggeration to say that without Katherine's influence and organizational talents, I might never have picked up a brush; the Leech Studio is where I first encountered my most important painting mentors, Valfred Thëlin* and Barbara Nechis. I enrolled in workshops, won my first awards there, and took part in the Two Arts trip to Nova Scotia and Maine.

Katherine's World brings all of this together, and brings back cherished memories for me and countless others. A significant portion of the book is devoted not only to artists and photographers I knew or know -- Valfred, Barbara, Pete Carmichael, Margarette Mead, Nicholas Reale, Frank Webb, and Shirley Hummel, to name several, but a host of others I had heard of and learned about: Jerry Farnsworth, Dorothy and Hilton Leech, Bruce McGrew (whose outstanding watercolor graces the cover), Robert Sisson, Marc Moon, Judi Betts, et al.

In addition, the book delves into more history about Katherine's ancestry, the Shakers, her present extended family, and includes a selection of her glorious photographs and poems. The layout of the book is simply stunning, as are the reproductions. Highly recommended! See Katherine's website for information about ordering.

Katherine will turn 91 this month, and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down!

* * * * *

On page 66 is a full-page reproduction (in perfect color, thank you!) of me with my painting Summer Sonata.

On the facing page is one of my favorite photographs of Valfred, his gal Deidre, Shirley Hummel, and myself on a boat to Monhegan Island, experiencing some rough seas!

On page 64 Katherine wrote:

Since the Down East group was from Florida, most of our participants were from mid-to-retirement age. But there was one younger participant. Nicholas Simmons, a young musician from Iowa had seen Val's work in Sarasota and been so inspired by it, and Val's personality, that he added watercolor painting to his activities. Since that time, he's made steady progress with his painting and in 2007 his powerful "Fresh Sushi" won top award in the National Watercolor Society's Annual Exhibition, one of many honors he has acquired. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area of Maryland, and is married to Olga, from Ukraine, with whom he fell in love on a trip to Russia. They have a daughter, Larissa.

Thank you, Katherine, and when might we expect Vol. III?!