Joe Rayome was commissioned by my son, Michael Runyan, to do a watercolor of me fishing on the Little Wood River in Idaho. I believe watercolor is the perfect medium to express the essence of my experience. I am so grateful to Joe for his creation.
From the artist…. Joe Rayome. Watercolor is misunderstood. For many people, just hearing the word sparks images of amateurish, semi-transparent flowers and seascapes, while others might recall their only exposure to watercolor – a cheap plastic paint set issued to kindergarten classrooms everywhere. For me, it’s something very different.
My studio space looks more like a carpenter’s workshop than an art room. Various sized sheets of polyurethane sealed birch plywood are leaning against any given wall. These are my support boards I use to stretch the heavy cotton paper to prevent it from buckling and warping while painting. I have a drawer full of paints from England and France and Japan – some with warning labels from the state of California that the heavy metals inside could possibly probably kill me. My current palette of choice is something called a “butcher’s tray”. I have a couple brushes made of squirrel hair (sorry PETA) that cost more individually than a new pair of shoes. I’m well stocked on razor blades, masking tape and sandpaper, all of which I use frequently. And when I’m out painting in the city people walk past only to pause, backtrack, look over my shoulder while I’m working and say things like, “That’s a WATERCOLOR?” Yeah, dude. That’s a watercolor.
The best I can explain it is that watercolor just makes sense to me. It fits my personality and who I am as both a person and an artist and how I see the world. I’m fascinated by the creation of a watercolor painting – watching the wet pigments and colors interact on the paper like some kaleidoscopic wash that almost magically becomes some beautiful scene. And just as much as watercolor can be light and flowing and transparent, it can be equally dark and moody and gritty, and the combination of these elements is what makes watercolor so unique.
Artists choose their materials for different reasons, I suppose, but I choose watercolor because the images it allows me to create are the clearest representation of the story I’m trying to tell. My preferences have always leaned towards light and color and a bit of impressionism, and watercolor offers them all to me.
I don’t really spend much time looking at my paintings once they’re finished. After they dry and I sign my name it’s all over. Moving on. It’s almost as if the magic and the water evaporate together. What’s left is a document of a moment or a person or a place, and it’s given new life in the eyes of whomever finds it interesting. But every painting has buried within it a history and a story of its creation. And my enthusiasm is constantly rekindled by the fact that there is always something new to paint, and even a subject I’ve painted in the past can suddenly become interesting again when imagined from a different perspective. The passion reignites itself constantly. It always stays new.