Transparency in many forms


I have been coming to some personal conclusions about transparency.  I started by asking, 
what else defines transparency besides the ability
to see through something?

Can transparency add another dimension to a point of view
like the turning of perception
upside down?

Since my last post about watercolor, I've been thinking a lot about this subject
so I went to various dictionaries looking for definitions of the word "transparent"
and after diving into the collection of images over on Tumblr,
finally, some thoughts are coming together...

Note:  click on the highlighted word(s) under each photo to go to the Tumblr source and photo credit.

Defined as:   allowing radiation to pass through with little or no resistance...

...so fine in texture that it can be seen through...

...open in texture, gauzy...

...sheer enough for light to pass through...

...neither opaque,

With those descriptions in mind, I searched for examples of transparency
in various art forms from artists engaged in differing mediums, 
to see how they might visualize and create something transparent
in their own unique way.
Some may not have been thinking about transparency at all 
(most were probably not)
this is only my very subjective interpretation...

Photographers manipulate images with layers & textures these days, 
setting opacity levels from practically opaque to almost 
completely transparent,
combining subjects in such a way that new worlds are presented,
amazing worlds of the imagination...

For centuries, photographers have used the power of backlighting to create luminosity,

draw our attention to what is important to them,

and capture extraordinary moments that were about being in the right place, at the right time.

This piece is entitled "She Lied" by Jean Myers...
isn't this also transparency of emotion?

mixed media used to great effect...

and here in 'Essence' by Wen Redmond...

'The Night of Many Promises' painted by Joanne Williams...

Some may wonder at this one,
but in this painting/illustration of an owl by K. Mijadzava
there is so much depth in those feathers from the transparency of meticulous brush strokes,
layer upon layer...

Textile artists know the power of silk ~ so strong for something so sheer...

some strong crochet, like a spider's web.

This maker, Ryo Yamada, took their art installation outdoors...
'Vertical Landscape'
sways in the breeze, makes me think of ghosts dancing

while this makes me want to pick up needle and thread,
layer cloth, stitch something beautiful.
If I only had this skill.
I wonder if the woman who stitched this Edwardian tea apron would have
ever imagined that a hundred years later another woman
might look at her handwork with such admiration that she wished it were her own...

My transparent sincerity.

In a 'Paris Review' interview, poet Stanley Kunitz (then in his seventies) said this:

At my age, after you're done - or ruefully think you're done - with the nagging anxieties
and complications of your youth, what is there left for you to confront but the great
simplicities?  I never tire of birdsong and sky and weather.  I want to write poems that are
natural, luminous, deep, spare.  I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through
and see the world.


Just add water...


Somewhere in the back of my mind I had been harboring the idea of
sketching again with watercolors.
Too many uncountable years ago, I attempted this painting technique in art college
 and quickly put the judgement on myself that I'd failed miserably
(why do we do that to ourselves?)
so when I learned that Jane Voorhees was coming to visit our island locale
was going to offer a workshop on small format watercolor painting,
I knew that's where I wanted to be...

All those technical terms I'd forgotten!
Washes, wet in wet, dry brush, lifting off, dropping in color...
back again like old friends.
Made this little sampler (above) for future reference, added some marks
and remembered what I so loved about this medium of painting...

I mentioned to Jane that these days, while working mainly with stitching and beads, 
I'd taken to the layering of silks - sheer silk - to achieve a similar transparency with cloth.
It was a definite "ah hah" kind of moment.

Jane has a killer smile...

and a very patient teaching style.

It was challenging to work directly from photographs...
how do you make the paint express what you're trying to say?
You have all the tools:  a selection of brushes, an extensive color palette for mixing,
the texture of good paper...
and the single most important ingredient,


which seems to have a mind of its own.

What didn't I do in school that I want to do now?


Thank you, Jane, for the very inspiring day...come back soon!


To learn more about Jane and see her paintings, click here