Monday, September 20, 2010

Ron Morrison on Vertical Painting in Watercolour

Once Upon a Time

Ron Morrisson of Courtenay, BC changed his method of painting. Like most watercolourists, Ron painted his works on a flat sheet. Ron recently wrote
"I started painting this way after watching Castagnet. I found the transition relatively easy after all these years of flatitude. I have also started using very big brushes. Z'bukvic is always talking about following the "bead", the bottom of the wash as it moves down the paper.The combination produces greater transparency. I found that I lost some of my "effects" as the paint waves down the paper, such as granulation and some texturing but overall I liked the process. What the whole program does is force you to deal with keeping your hands off the paper, paint with the tip of the brush to get your finework done and paint fast. You have to actually paint without support or aid (I suppose you could use a stick thing) and occassionally mop up as the paint runs down the paper."

When we take a good look at Ron's 'Once Upon a Time' above, it may not be readily apparent for many viewers that we are seeing a vertically painted picture.

Let's take a good look at this work. How can it be? What is happening to my perceptions when I look at this work? When I look at this painting it seems to me that Ron has not just bridged the chasm between technique and finished product but this work looks like technique itself. It looks like a frozen cameo taken from an developing scene. Quick now, where did I put the phone number for the national Gallery of Canada?

I've been critiquing Ron's work now for about 3 years, and I've got to be upfront now, its important when you look at this work to realize that Ron's change in technique, is taking Ron out onto a limb. His works are different. They have always been confined by flow and backflow, blossoms, and dramatic interplays of values and colour. But, as Ron says above, the vertical technique comes without some of his perfected 'effects'.

The flow in this work entreats my imagination to think that I am looking at this scene, through a rain streaked window. I am gobsmacked to think that someone can actually duplicate such an image.

It also presents quite an unintentional comparison with Milton Zsabo's preceding work. There are differences and there are similarities.

Ron's palette is restricted and his subject is limited to a few basic elements: trees, sky, house and foreground car. Ron's liberated immpressionism encourages the viewer's freedom of imaginative inreading. Look at the sky for instance. Do we see clouds and light or do we see clouds, light and mountain shapes? Look at the foreground on the bottom left...does it suggest to you chaotic littering? Ron has always been a master of such technique.

Sometimes in art its not what you see, but what you think you see. Sometimes its not the picture but the mood created by the picture. Can the artist use his/her skill to fasciliate inner vision and imagination? Can the impressionist, help you see the inefferable mystery of that which is within a subject? I would argue that its infinitely harder to be an impressionist than to be a small brush, controlled literalist. And Ron demonstrates his willingness to step out onto an artistic limb and to change his style. I respect his artistic voyeurism and adventurous spirit.

To visit Ron's website please click here.

Video's of Alvaro Castagnet painting in the vertical style can be found on You Tube.


  1. I think your critique is better than this guy's painting. Thanks, Win, you get it good.

  2. WEll written and lovely painting. Hello, Ron.


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