The technique of water coloring has always yielded fascinating developments in art’s long history. Its power to evoke atmosphere has been particularly compelling in the hands of capable and innovative painters, some of whom have produced the most compelling paintings in the world. Here, then, are five famous water color artists.
Of the group, JMW Turner is most well-known. He is considered to be the most influential water colorist of the Romantic age, inspiring the Impressionists of later years. He was born in England, in 1775, and passed away in 1851.
Turner’s landscape paintings are among the most famous in the art world. They are distinguished by Turner’s adept use of light and tone in the evocation of times of day. These variations sought to create the sublime. The sublime, according to the Romantics, refers to the untamed beauty and savagery of nature. An example of this is ‘Rain, Steam, Speed: The Great Western Railway’, finished in 1844.
William Blake, who was born in England in 1757 and died in 1827, did not use the outside world as inspiration for his works. Rather, he looked inward, to his own “inner visions”. Such images grew from mystical beings and divine incarnations of the spiritual world. Not only do these icons feature in his paintings, but they also appear in his poetry. ‘The Angel of Revelation, ‘ completed in 1805, is one such example of Blake’s preoccupation with divinity and transcendence.
French artist Paul Cezanne played with water colors to put a new interpretation on the still life form. He gently layered pure colors onto the canvas, allowing them to gently blend into one another right on the paper. This means that there was no need to mix colors before application. He also made the paper itself an integral element of the painting, and highlighted certain images by accenting them with charcoal and pencil. This technique is most apparent in ‘Still Life with Melon and Pomegranate’, completed in 1906. Cezanne influenced other artists, like Renoir and Monet.
Similar innovations were happening over the Atlantic Ocean in the United States of America. Edward Hopper, an artist operating in the ’20′s, was a realist who wanted to show the world certain “unseen” aspects of life in the USA. His subjects are quietly introspective are rather lonely, like an abandoned cinema or railway. ‘The Mansard Roof’ from 1923 also evokes this distinctly sad mood.
Georgia O’ Keefe, on the other hand, was a modernist who was particularly intrigued by abstract interpretations of nature. She was fascinated by the ‘wideness’ and ‘wonder’ of her home country, the USA, in particular the striking landscapes of New Mexico. Her austere depictions of rocks, flowers and strange architectural forms have become famous the world over, most notably ‘Blue Lines’ of 1916. She died in 1986.
These are only a few of the many painters who have managed to take the form of water coloring to interesting new dimensions. This form of painting has played a prominent role in all of the major art movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and continues to do so today. Contemporary water color artists have these five painters to thank.