A series of paintings of the coral seas in Aitutaki, Cook Islands taken from 200 sketches made during the fourteen weeks I’ve spent there between 2005 - 07
Because of the inconsistency of the weather, Aitutaki being a little blip in the Pacific Ocean, the seas therefore change constantly. You have a minute to get it down onto paper before it changes before your eyes and has gone. But often the thin indigo blue line of the ocean beyond the atoll remains constant.
The moving clouds simultaneously illuminate the sea and reflect the sky. The sun slicing through the clouds reveals what’s beneath the sea in colour; pink of coral, greens of weed and ochre of sand. While the clouds cast purples and the clear blue sky reflect on the surface as turquoise, the encroaching skies of storms reflect onto the sea as whitened mauve and Prussian blue with a multitude of intervening blues. Working rapidly on the sketch, with practice the speed of getting down what’s before your eyes just with a few glimpses becomes instinctive-like
The converse of sketching with speed in front of the subject is the slow pace back home in my very small studio. You just can’t rush oil! The age old practice of oil painting using a mixture of minerals and linseed oil swallows time like a ritualistic tea ceremony in Japan. It takes time when painting that crucial horizon line of indigo or green turquoise so an hour passes in a minute. Days are allowed of drying time between applications of paint. And although I am far removed from those ever changing seas in our cold northern climate it can amuse my eye when I’m applying a whitened Prussian blue of a sky for example and see the very same colour of approaching rains in the skies outside my studio! Or when just for a flash of amoment I can see it! I can fool my eye into believing the sea is there in front of me for a split second in a mixture of insight and memory. Like a miniaturtrompe-l’oeil.
The paintings are fixed to hang with a single horizon line connecting the paintings as a whole, demonstrating the transition of time.