The Things I Used to Do – An Environmental Tale

Elements Kimono 3

These are large wooden panels of plywood on wood supports. They are heavy and framed using custom sized floating frames. Some were exhibited at the university where I received my BFA. I remember the press commentary about works in the show had as follows: “Sandy Webster certainly has a different way of using watercolors.” That was about it. My idea of course went beyond using my paints differently than anyone else.

I wanted to show how man encroaches slowly onto Nature and eventually completely takes over. So in this first panel (each of the main four are 28″ x 38″) I have painted the kimono that represents man in an innocent position of simply hung on a line in the breeze. The crow and the fish in the sea carry on about their lives.

Elements kimono #2

Man is a bit more threatening here and moves forward in disguise.

Elements kimono #1

Things are beginning to come removed from their proper place.

Elements kimono 4

The crow has departed, and man has caught all of the ocean. The sun is getting duller.

Elements full wall elements kimono

And finally, all that the world had to offer is now worn in the clothing of man. This piece took three wooden panels to make up the kimono with the center piece being 24″ x 60″. Bit dramatic, don’t you think?

What I did like about this work was my idea at the time and the “unusual” use of watercolors. I would rub them on with a rag, let them dry and then use my electric sander to sand some of them away. Use more paint, some graphite and sand again. The use of gold leaf was what gave them some rich areas and influenced the framer on what floating frames to use.

Two of the pieces sold out of a gallery because the buyer could not decide which one to take so took them both. The large kimono and last part of the series I gave to a friend for her home where it fits perfectly and the other two (large crow body and kimono holding the sea) hang in our bedroom. I still like them.

And I still wonder what makes some ideas so important that we are willing to go to so much trouble to see it through. What I received in sales covered the cost of the framing so it certainly is not the possibility of making money from the work. I look through my studio and wonder why I am doing the work I am now.

I think that in a perfect artist’s world there is a special landfill where all this work can keep company with others – all products of artists that simply could not help themselves. Those of us who must see what that dreamed up idea in our heads will look like sitting in front of us, completely realized.