John Carr Russell
Watercolor Haiku: Exploring Light and Color
Watercolor painting is an essential part of my daily living. Historically, this study of color and light began back in the 1970s. I began studying art seriously with Anne Truitt, who is well-known in artistic circles for her minimalistic forms of sculpture and amazing color. Her teaching, work, and philosophy of life changed my life and gave my life an important focus. I studied with her extensively for about 3 1/2 years, at the University of Maryland. In the years since I have devoted my life and time to teaching, often art, but also general education. It has been an important life goal to help students learn to be good human beings, and I have taught for almost 40 years.
I recently retired from teaching, after a rewarding career of helping the young find their way in life and art. It has only been in the last couple of years that I have had a few art shows and exhibitions. Some of the work was in encaustic painting, while others were in oil and acrylic. I worked in very large format and small, and some works were in watercolor. Now, I am returning to the root of my source of inspiration which started long ago.
Haiku poems are brief, compact, and expressive. I call my paintings “ watercolor haiku”, to show their similarity to this type of poem. Watercolor was the first art medium I used when I was a young teenager, 50 years ago, and it has continued to fascinate and enthrall me throughout my adulthood. It is now my medium of choice. It allows me to work quickly, be expressive, show nuance, and yet, be decisive.
My wife, Maureen, challenged me to create a painting, each day, back in late December of 2019, and I continued painting one a day for an entire year. I have focused on a wide variety of subject matter including portraits, animals, pets, still life, landscapes, and current events. The common denominator in all of these is finding the light and shadow—and the colors of light in reflections, around highlights, and in the shadows. The light and shadows help define the forms and make it possible to see and enjoy the textures, as well as reflective surfaces.
The subject, is not the subject, per se, it is the light, shadows, and colors that are the true subjects in each painting in this series. The paper is usually Arches, and the paints are by M. Graham, Daniel Smith, or Winsor & Newton. Seeing the paintings in person, allow the viewer to see the depth and texture of each painting. Thank you for taking the time to study and investigate the light, colors, and shadows, in each of these works. I hope you enjoy these watercolor haiku paintings.