Mistique is an exhibition that features my latest body of works resulting from the study of the effects and plays of light under misty atmospheric conditions. As a local resident of Canberra, mist and fog are regular visitors to our region in the winter months. I drew inspiration from these regular sightings. They act like suspended veils in open space, at times dimming, concealing and revealing which ads an aura of mystery. The obscuring of more defined forms to simple silhouettes unifies and re-defines the landscape. As the rays of warm morning light penetrate, the eyes play hide and seek, often an ordinary subject is transformed to something magical.
My paintings are recordings of these inspired moments. I find peace and fulfilment in the creative process. Especially when using a responsive medium such as watercolour.
Having extensively studied the works of the great Australian landscape artist Sir Hans Heysen for his depictions of stunning atmospheric effects of mist, which had profound influence in my works, I experimented with the “wet-into-wet” technique in watecolour to capture these effects. Watercolour behaves like nature, fresh spontaneous and elemental in its simplicity. Whilst the fluidity and the dynamic nature of the medium lend itself well in creating these effects, it throws certain challenges too.
Firstly, the wet-into-wet technique only allows a limited time frame, usually 2 to 3 minute window of opportunity. As the paper begins to dry the edges and form becomes more defined and dangerous to paint. One must be acutely aware what forms to paint at that stage. Secondly, in misty conditions, the colours become muted and the tones need to be closely related. Any drastic change in tone and colour will destroy the feeling of depth. Yet, working “with the medium” is the key to success. Most magical atmospheric effects are induced by the mingling of the wet washes, which infuses a visual realism and takes a life on its own, where a perfectly timed dab here and there or a deft brush stroke makes all the difference.