Saturday 6 August 2022

The beautiful solitude of nature


The beautiful solitude of nature

My pilot is flying his De Havilland Beaver seaplane close above the small islands and inlets off Vancouver Island, bending and weaving his route northward, with only an occasional tiny ferryboat below. Sitting in the cockpit with a sketchbook on my lap, I'm sketching frantically with a thick pencil, breathless with the beauty of this unique viewpoint, one that changes every second. We are alone, communing with nature. Westward is the vast Pacific. I feel so small and intensely aware of the ephemeral nature of human life on our beautiful planet.

In the summer of 1988 I was on Vancouver Island to give workshops. I stayed at the chalet of my dear friend, the excellent Victoria artist and art educator Fleming Jorgensen. He got me that flight over the islands. (I was not to know that his colleague, the watercolour artist Toni Onley, who flew his own sea-plane in search of inspiration, was later to crash into the deep).

In my Amsterdam studio, I recently rediscovered those urgent sketches made thirty-four years ago and was overcome by acute nostalgia. So I decided to re-live my amazing experience in those ever-changing aerial views of nature, in the form of two semi-abstract watercolours. By freely creating islands of colour nestling in the deeps and shallows, I rediscovered the beautiful solitude of nature. I dared to let my watercolours flow and bleed organically, naturally forming their own textures and patterns. I heard the floating sounds of music: woodwinds, shakuhachi, bass saxophone and Tan Dun's water percussion. 

  Solitude above Vancouver Islands, watercolour, 43 x 62 cm. 2022

In the second painting my tiny seaplane further explores those monumental peaks and depths. We briefly touched down at the foot of the background peak for a ten-second splash in that icy waterfall. That really took my breath away!

Exploring heights and depths of Vancouver islands, watercolour 66 x 46 cm, 2022