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Watercolour Discs Christa McCann-Silver
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IMPERFECT BEAUTY

I'm a British, full-time professional artist, specialising in minimal abstract watercolours and graphite drawings.

I live a Minimalist lifestyle and embrace Japanese Zen aesthetics of Shibui and Wabi-Sabi.  My art reflects these experiences; celebrating the understated, quiet, clam beauty in simplicity and imperfections.  

I seek to balance, elegant simplicity with complexity and a balance between contrasting aesthetic concepts such as spontaneous and restrained, elegant and rough or subdued colours with a hint of the vivid.  

Creating is a pure joy and an integral part of my daily meditative rituals, slow living lifestyle and a celebration of my minimalist journey.  

I’m interested in the making, the handmade and the tactile nature of materials. Creating art at a slow pace in my beautiful Welsh home studio.  All my artworks are original, unique, handmade and created individually by me: from initial sketches, mixing of watercolour pigments, to the laying down of washes onto the finest quality paper.  I manage the flow and drying of the pigmented water, using my unique process that I have perfected throughout many years of working at my studio.

The handmade aspect of my art is something I value, allowing me to create unique works of art and to celebrate the imperfections that follow.  They appreciate the absence of unnecessary features and instils a quietness.  The aim to reveal the innate character and essence of the materials used.  Working on the finest handmade Italian, French and Oriental papers in artist watercolours, platinum, graphite and naturally occurring genuine mineral pigments.

Watercolour is simply the soul of my work and my passion, focusing on the materials and the process that the painting takes, the journey that we took.  A combination of traditional watercolour techniques together with a process that I discovered myself; observing the behaviour and motion of pigments transported along with the flow of water on and in the paper at various stages of the water-cycle.  I listen to this process, observe how single pigments and mixtures react, maintaining a constant dialogue with the intricate interaction of pigments travelling with the water on the paper and respond accordingly.  My process handles and guides the surface tension; the flux and drying of the pigmented water on the surface of the paper and in its fibres.  Whilst at the same time exploiting its unpredictability with a curiosity and willingness to experiment and incorporate accidental effects.  Celebrating the wealth of magical and serendipitous effects created.

There is a clear direction of colour palette and compositional elements at the start, but I listen to the cues as the art unfolds and go where the painting tells me.  In the 'beginning' the wet watercolour painting looks very different to the final dried artwork. As the pigmented water shifts and then evaporates the water's task is over, capturing the motion of the pigments that accompanied the flow of the water during its last journey.  My intention is fulfilled, resulting in one-of-a-kind artworks; areas that have morphed into new unique shapes, textures and soft diffused clouds of varied tone.  While I never completely know how my process will affect the finished outcome, the reveal is a special moment for me, akin to opening the kiln door after a firing!

 

My watercolours push the boundaries of time honoured 'rules', and asking the viewer to see the medium in a new and contemporary light.  They re-evaluate traditions and conventions, but at the same time allowing the watercolour to express itself, to reveal its innate character and essence.  I strive to maintain a fine balance of control and the unexpected imperfect beauty.

My art has a strong connection with my interest in precious stones, the Welsh land and seascape, astronomy and my ceramic work.  In part the art is about what inspires me visually, not so much about the objects themselves but their associated aesthetics. These suggest elements of shine, sparkle, patina, gloss, matte, opacity, pattern, hue, silhouette...  Then the paring down of this visual vocabulary; the economy of shape, colour, surface texture and detailing.   

HOME

I live and work in the beautiful coastal and rural region of the Gower Peninsula in South Wales, United Kingdom with my husband and children.  I gained a First Class, BA Hons Degree in Fine Art and a qualified teacher in Art & Design and worked in art education for 15 years.  I'm an avid walker and my surroundings provide me with endless inspiration and rich resources.  Within Gower's coastline lies no less than twenty-five beaches, ranging from stunning vistas of sandy beaches, beautiful bays with interesting coves, castles and coastal villages to explore.  Not forgetting the wildlife and plants!

COLOUR

My limited palette creates an understated, minimal aesthetic.  My collection of precious gemstones continues to grow and these beauties are a source of infinite and rich inspiration for my watercolours.  Providing a wealth of colour, shape and pattern, which are the keystone elements of my art.

I collect genuine mineral pigments in the form of watercolours, mica and loose powders. A favourite is Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours; PrimaTek.  The PrimaTek range are unique colours handmade with authentic naturally occurring mineral pigments.  Favourites are Hematite and Tiger's Eye to the jewel tones of Rhodonite, Genuine Black Tourmaline, Lapis Lazuli, Garnet, Amethyst, Green Apatite, Blue Apatite, Bloodstone and Kyanite. 

Three of my favourite books on colour, natural materials and pigments are:

  • Colour: Travels through the Paintbox by Victoria Finlay.

  • The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting by Daniel V. Thompson with a foreword by Bernard Berenson.

  • The Craftsman's Handbook by Cennino d'Andrea Cennini.  THE ITALIAN "IL LIBRO DELL' ARTE". Translated by Daniel V. Thompson Jr.

MARK MAKING

My art is a coming together of the spontaneity of watercolour and the control of mark making. Texture and pattern created by manipulating the paper, simple line and dots. Preferring smooth surface papers, as these free me to create my own surface textures, through paper manipulation; folding, incising, scoring, embossing and piercing.  Marks are accentuated when pigments settle into the recesses or broken paper surface. 

THE HUMBLE DOT

The dot is a recurring feature in my work over the past 20 years.  Creating dots is akin to my bead weaving off-loom artwork with regards to its slow and repetitive process. Some artworks are comprised of hundreds of dots.  Due to the lengthy making process and receptiveness, I find this action complements my minimalist lifestyle in that it is both relaxing and meditative.

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Typically, dots walk along the perimeter of a form or along the unseen divides within the form. Inspiration taken from the flow of water along and around objects and Japanese Rock gardens. Layouts include lines of dots, in rows and laid in grids; square, isometric and hexagonal.  Dots are formed primarily by embossing and piercing techniques and occasionally with ink by means of a dip pen or a fine brush.

SIMPLE LINE

Working fine lines is another favourite of mine, created with ink, folding and unfolding paper, incising, scoring and stitch.  Creating pinstripes, short and herringbone hatching in simple rows.

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MATERIALS

Working with quality is important to me and when working with new materials I always use artist quality; ensuring that the artwork has a high archival standard.

WATERCOLOUR PAPER

Finest handmade papers such as the Italian paper 'Fabriano' and the French paper 'Arches'.

OTHER PAPERS / SUPPORTS

Oriental papers such as Japanese papers 'Awagami Washi' and rice paper.  Also exploring non-traditional supports for my watercolours such as linen, wood and ceramic.  

WATERCOLOUR PAINTS

My preferred watercolour paints are Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours and Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours; PrimaTek.  Occasionally, using other artist brands such as Holbein Artist' Watercolour and Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolour.  I also create my own watercolours from natural raw materials.

INK

Ink often accompanies my watercolours, this can be in the form of line, dots and or washes.  I tend to favour black Indian ink, white Chinese ink, Sepia and Indigo.  My go to ink brand is Rohrer & Klingner.  

GRAPHITE

Working with graphite is a pure joy.  The limitation of one medium and one colour, offers many exciting journeys.  Graphite trapped and gently worked into the paper fibres, resulting in subtle metallic surface textures, reminiscent of the surface of pyrite.

  

Watercolour can have tiny inclusions of graphite.  Using the german brand Faber-Castell and english brand Derwent.  They are a beautiful soft silver-grey.  Dots and lines achieved using my 'Laid Embossing/Scoring' techniques.

 

METAL

I often incorporate metal into my art, either in the form of pure platinum metal leaf, Genuine Palladium Shell Pigment, 'silver' watercolour paint.  I also add a natural mineral shimmer called Mica to my watercolour washes.  I favour white metals such as silver and platinum and occasionally warm metallics of copper and bronze.

CHARCOAL / COLOURED PENCIL / OIL PASTEL​

  • Charcoal allows me to include dark gritty textures to my work.  I use British willow charcoal by Coates and French compressed charcoal from Conte. 

  • Coloured Pencils - Faber-Castell; Polychromes and Caran d'Ache; Luminance 6901.  Watercolour Pencils - Faber-Castell Albrecht-Durer.

  • Oil Pastel - Sennelier and Neopastel Caran d'Ache.

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