The devastating tsunami and earthquake are a haunting reminder of nature’s potential for destruction, and a caution to those who choose to forget the essential probabilities.
One witness said “…it wasn’t a wave, but a boiling sea…”
With those words in mind, I began work on a large, vertical view of the sea at night, hoping to capture the terror of such conditions and the implied threat. Night because it has always been the most frightening time to meet the unknown. The water is based on my imagination, experience on board during a storm, and reading The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Unger. My painting would be a requiem for all lives lost at, in, or because of the sea.
Upon learning that the fishing fleet and its base facilities on shore were lost, I looked for a way to evoke the fragile nature and small scale of humanity in the face of such elemental force. I found an embroidered symbol of a sailing ship on a Japanese textile, and simplified it for use in the painting. My small “ships” give scale to the waves and break up near the bottom of the painting (see detail below). Red bands at the top of the painting and near the sinking ships reinforce the sense of danger.
Technical painting notes – Requiem is painted on top of another painting, TM8137 Symphony #4 – Waves and Intervals, which was leaning vertically against the studio wall and, in that position, seemed to evoke turbulent waves and even a suggestion of lightning. The sacrifice of a large painting to create a requiem was fitting. (see the former Symphony #4 on the Water Music Portfolio page).
I proceeded to roll a dark blue to greenish transparent glaze over most of the painting, dropped and splashed solvent on the wet glaze, then blotted and pushed the glaze around, drawing the wave patterns with crumpled plastic. The underpainting showed through somewhat, creating a tension with the new image that seemed appropriate. Further glazing, along with opaque linear drawing to bring out the waves and multitudinous spattering increased the stormy effect. The colored spatters, or rain, also work as symbols for tears. Because the painting is vertical, and because of the use of vertical perspective, it also hints at the tradition of Asian scroll paintings.