Essay and Pastels by Claire Blatchford
Mesmerized by a video about water I saw almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to try meeting water by way of pastels. It wasn’t so much the drawing challenge (water, clouds and faces are, for me, the ultimate challenge when drawing) because water is, as the late Theodor Schwenk, German Anthroposophist and pioneering water researcher, says in his wonderful book, Sensitive Chaos, “always on the way somewhere.” It was the challenge of trying to feel my way into the movements — visible and invisible—of this powerful, vital, elusive and wondrous element. I'm not out to simply record what I see with my physical eyes—I could use a camera if I wanted to do that-- so the results sometimes don’t make sense to viewers.
I think of this as my attempt to “read” into water. Put another way: a stream, for example, can be seen as an ongoing sentence or story flowing—or being “uttered”—onwards. When “reading” a stream I might catch a couple of the words passing by. Here follow seven examples of attempts to read water.
In this first one I saw, and read, shapes the water made in the sand over which is flowed:
In the next one, when looking at the surface of a pond, I was amazed at how just a few inches of water could look like a view of our earth seen from a great height.
In this one —another up close of a spot on a small stream near our home--I was struck by how water has fingers!
Again and again, what comes home to me in this “reading” is how water, despite the fact that it’s almost always on the move, is not without shape. And it tends to be spherical as I tried to show here (and as if evident too in the one above.)
As I see it, water is almost always reflecting things above and around it. Or one may see through it to what’s beneath it. In this “reading” other things are enhanced or brought to my attention. I’m always drawn to the moments when water moves with, into and through sunlight.
There are also those moments when water is playful —the moments are easy to “read”! It surges, draws back, leaps forward, folds over, pops up again. I'm certain, if I stay attentive, I'll see the water elementals, the undines, whom I saw once years ago.
And so the “reading” continues…..
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