Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lost Edges

This is a cut from a 9x12 watercolour I did, from a waterfalls along a river near our home. It wasn't until after I painted it and hung it in a local gallery that I became aware of how it fitted into my quest for spirituality in art.

There is something about Lost Edges that give us a glimpse of what I mean. You will see what I mean in the cut above. Here we find, the solidness of the tree not just fading into mist and water and air but metamorphosizing.

I am reminded of that great poem by William Wordsworth, 'View from Westminster Bridge, written in 1802.'

"Ships, towers, theatres and temples lie,

Open onto the fields, and to the sky;

All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Never did the sun more beautifully steep

In his first spleandour, valley, rock or hill;

Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!

The river glideth at his own sweet will;"

Dear God, the very houses seem asleep,

And all that mighty heart is lying still."


This is a profoundly pantheistic image - where all of nature and life is infused with the living presence of God.

Here is where the solidness of stone and man made building change into objects which are bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Wordsworth begins his list of human objects from ships (objects of commerce) to simple towers, and then from there to domes then theatres (art) and from ever inward and upward to buildings of spiritual worship (temples). Its a journey from the material to the spiritual with art on the upper end of the scheme.

But there is also a change in physical substance taking place where solid buildings become objects of reflective light. It also becomes vaporous or part of the scenic atmosphere of the poem.

Note that while the image is suspended in this state Wordsworth migrates from the external image into the mystical, meditative, inner world - a sort of spiritual domain where all is silent and unknoweable and where the great heart of God beats and all of life becomes one.

Notice too how Wordsworth melds sleeping people with houses...so that nature takes on a human quality. "Dear God, even the very houses seem asleep."

After touching the divine heart Wordsworth steps back to the ancient metaphor of the river as the journey of life. The ebb and flow of life continues through it all, past the ships of trade and the impermanant stones and sticks that men hammer into the earth.

Lost edges provide watercolour artists with the same opportunity to work from the physical into the interior domain. In the picture above the colour flows without bounds into morning atmosphere. This creates a sense of mysticism, intransience and spiriuality.


  1. Lovely piece and interesting post. The previous post is interesting too. Must be a bit galling to discover that. I knew a woman who spent time working in the south of Germany and had picked up a lot of genre paintings that were derivative of older works; must be a bit of an industry going on there. Artists really should indicate their piece is after so and so. I've copied art a fair bit; I either don't sign it or indicate 'after so and so'. It's actually quite instructive, but I don't think I've ever sold any of the copies. I recently was looking at a wonderful artists website, and when I got way back in their early years found a lovely painting that was obviously; really obviously, modelled on a painting by one of my art college instructors, Fred Hagen. No credit was given to uncle Fred. Nevertheless, the artist was a super painter, but the reference diminished my opinion of that work a bit. A lot of artists, when they find a successful formula, kind of paint the same thing over and over. Occasionally I find I've done it...some people do it quite shamelessly. I knew of an artist out your way who did it and actually got involved in a law suit as a result of a buyer discovering that their image was almost identical to another by the artist, and felt the high price paid should infer some kind of originality. I don't think they won, though. Hope you're enjoying summer; I am!

  2. Thanks for your comment Clive. Interesting that your friend also bought her work in S. Germany.....I wonder if it is the same community where mine came from.......hmmmmmmmmmmm. Nothing would surprise me.
    Best wishes


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