Wednesday, 17 November 2021

The art of watercolor

A new book on Rockman's work is always worthwhile. Here are 120, mostly watercolor paintings, from 1987 to 2020 and they clearly show his mastery of the watercoluor technique:  letting colours run into each other to create subtle shapes and shading. It's the natural world that fascinates him, especially when it collides with a man-made environment. Scattered through the pages various places crop up like the Golden Gate Bridge, Venice, Hong Kong, the Statue of Liberty, they all look the worse for wear with animals looking on, sort of waiting for their chance to take over. 

A chapter called Bioluminescece has some remarkable paintings of sea creatures, all on an inky black background. Here the merging of watercolour paint works beautifully to create very credibly sea life like jellyfish, squid, drape octopus and others. The Field Drawing chapter is quite intriguing. Rockman was on a trip to Guyana in 1994 and having run out of pencils he decided to experiment by painting with a mixture of earth and water. Predictable when the works dried the mud flaked off. A bit more experimentation with some matte acrylic mixed in with earth and water solved the problem. The paintings of animals, fish, birds, insects, plants and foliage really do look quite stunning. Very simple studies basically in shades of sepia floating on white paper.

The back pages have an interesting selection of twenty-one pictures in an Appendix of Graphic Influences. These include old masters to Beatrix Potter with long captions revealing how these works influenced Rockman's painting and composition style.

Works on paper is a celebration of the artist's work in a beautifully produced book. 

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