How do we choose what we pick up and get influenced by in this huge flow of information and impressions? In my watercolour paintings during the first half of 2018 I see a flavour of national romanticism. Is it a response to the current political mood in Sweden of rising nationalism and callousness? It has not been possible to ignore when who is a proper swede and who is not is debated in a language reminiscent of the 1930’s.
But why has that given me a taste for classic nostalgia instead of something moving forward towards a bright future? It might be a lack of faith in that bright future and perhaps that is what national romanticism really conveys. We all know everything changes so just let us cling to what we know for just a moment longer.
My inspiration comes from Anders Zorn but also contemporary Swedish painters like Nick Alm and Benjamin Björklund which I think have a sinister mood very much in tune with mine.
With new flavours comes new recepies. I used to struggle a lot with watercolours but now I am enjoying this medium more and more. Three very different painters made me question the way I paint. I stumbled upon a video on how to use white gouache as a base which makes it easier to lift off mistakes. Here George Pratt in action.
Then I watched this video of Sienkiewicz which really took away all my preconceptions I had that a watercolour needed to be meticulously planned and perfectly executed not allowing any spontaneity.
After this I took another look at Zorn. I do not know of any other artist who can paint so many hues of white. His watercolours seem to have a broader range of hues and tones than his oils.
After all that inspiration I have dared applying paint then adding water again and lifting of paint with a sponge. Repeatedly. Good watercolour paper can take a lot of beating. One has to get to know which pigments stain more than the others . Being scared of making mistakes is a terrible inhibitor of creative flow.
“Kamp om vit strumpa”
She is standing on the porch. The wind is cool against her cheeks and moves her hair. She watches the garden in front of her with the lawn and the flowers. But the wind wants her attention. Nagging. It comes with the intent to unsettle.
She looks up and the grey clouds cover the whole sky. They move fast. She turns to walk inside.
The whistling of the wind follows her into the house and tells her to remember. Blows off the lid. Stirs up the dust that has settled. She mustn’t forget. The wind is eternal and it has no heart nor mercy. It leaves her tumbling and moves on for now. Eroding her a tiny bit with each passing.
Two pages in my sketchbook. Pencil, ink and watercolour.
So I have turned to making more realistic watercolours. Not really happy with that but I am not sure who is in charge. My last oilpainting went in the totally opposite direction which was not what I wanted either.
I have no comment on the election of Trump and the current rise of fascism and inhumanity than this.
So many horrible incidences have happened in such a short time that one’s own ordinary everyday life feels surreal. Like a thin layer of varnish over chaos.
I brought a sketchpad and an ink pen with me to the beach. Back home I used the black and white sketches of my daughter digging in the sand to do a watercolour. But instead of blue I remembered a tube of chinese orange goauche I bought when I lived in Jordan almost 20 years ago. Then the sky and sea turned gradually more red. The white sand became dark and sticky mud. My daughter digging tirelessly unaware of the fires burning around her.
This is to remember Nice, Munich and Kabul. A failed coup in Turkey that might give Erdogan the hands he needs to pull the rug under the Turkish democracy. May we still all come out of this year with the capability of instilling hope in each other and not be swallowed by a tide of ugly nationalism and hatred.