I’m a painter as well as a perfumista. I’m no art-world phenomenon, by any means. I just like to draw and paint, have been schooled, have exhibited some and sold a little.
My grandmother and a noisy and bohemian great-aunt, whom I adored, were artists, too. They worked in watercolor. As I began to paint and study, I very quickly learned that watercolor gets no respect. It’s for amateurs. Old ladies. (Sound familiar?) So, off I veered, into acrylics, then pastel, then oil, where the big boys play. I got reasonably proficient in all of these, and actually got pretty good at drawing the figure (rather useless, here in the Bible belt, where the nude figure is difficult to exhibit. Many shows won’t take them, especially if there is a school nearby, aaarrrgh!) but I digress. Oil and acrylic; you mix and layer, slather it on with a knife. Make that thick, textured surface. Stepping all over yourself; now, that’s the ticket – or it was, when I was learning.
Then, I went through a dry period. A book I read about dealing with such things said, “Return to what you love.” And I realized that what I loved – really loved – was pushing watercolor pigment around on the paper, watching it granulate, running the colors together to make new ones that were layered, not actually mixed, therefore luminous. I began using a pointed brush and working back into the color with water. The paintings were abstract, small and detailed.
I haven’t painted that much this last year; I’ve been busy studying perfume. So, last week, when I began to return to painting, I was surprised to discover that my style has changed. I’m content with “suggest” as opposed to “bludgeon”. As I painted, and the work seemed to paint itself without any conscious help from me (the true joy of this art, IMO) I began to wonder if all I’d learned in the world of scent might be the reason for the difference. That my preferences really have been leaning toward the light-handed, more modern, lately – the Ellenas particularly, but also the simpler Rosines, the best of which have a crystalline quality, and the greens. I didn’t expect this to appear in my painting, but it has.
I think back to all the reading I’ve done on perfumery. Ellena’s work in particular has been described as being very like watercolor. Done with a limited palette. Luminous. Ethereal.
This is something you have to pass through, I guess. From the over- to the understated, which presumes more taste in whoever is viewing (or smelling, or hearing, your work). Which also, of course, consigns you to the cognoscenti, but, hey, aren't we there already?
The watercolor painting, by me, is titled "Interior Landscape, Alaska." All rights reserved.