|The Thing in the Forest #2, watercolor and graphite on handmade paper, copyright Nina Leung, 2017|
Been working in the garden again. Every rock I turn over holds some delightfully wiggly creature whose image stays with me. I just can't get that A.S Byatt imagery out of my head. That Thing in the Forest was so grotesquely described by Byatt and is so fitting to my personal experience in the garden, only on a much smaller scale. The strange creatures we find that are right outside our door or maybe even closer. Our yard is full of salamanders from 2" in length to as many as 8" as well as tons of roly poly's and snails and fat spiders with spindly legs.
After my last couple paintings on the handmade paper, I felt the need to create some problems for myself and work on more obviously handmade paper. This paper is really weird! It acts like a blotter paper, it soaks up the paint immediately, no time to move it and the surface is so ragged it's impossible to get a smooth line, which is almost a necessity for me. It proved to be quite a challenge. I couldn't fight that raggedness and had to embrace it and try to find it's advantages. This is the beauty and the fun of the creative process, creating problems, finding problems and then trying to fix them or use them to advantage. I got a little outside help with this when midway through the painting, my three year old woke early from her nap and quietly went to the room I was painting in, pulled a dropper full of concentrated watercolor and proceeded to randomly drop paint all over! Completely spoiled all my plans. But, after much thought, those drops created a new possibility and I'm so happy with the results. If it weren't for her meddling, I would not have taken the risks that I was forced to. Thank you Elsa, my collaborator.