As a rule, I never touch the paper in making these watercolors, but that’s just about my only rule.
I begin with a minimum of intention (use red this time, or, try just one big splotch), and even that I need to abandon as soon as the first drops of water hit the paper. Despite over 10 years of working on these compositions and refining and developing a technique, I can never really control what the pigment will do when it lands on the page. But then again, that’s the way I want it: It’s important to me to leave the door wide open for chance to intervene. These are in a sense collaborations—I make a move, and chance responds.
The whole thing can come together quickly, in what feels like an instant, or it can develop into a protracted battle lasting days or even weeks. The trick is to continually reassess my options in response to what is happening on the page in front of me, to be open to new possibilities. It’s really about seeing what’s there as opposed to forcing through some preconceived idea. Not surprisingly, the works are more often than not, surprising, like something I’ve discovered as much as created. It’s that feeling of surprise that I look for, that’s when I know I’m on to something.
I’ve worked in stone on paper and even with light. So how do these watercolors and the rest of it all fit together? At first, it would seem that they don’t, nor do the watercolors belie my training and years of practice in architecture. Yet, diverse as it all is, there must necessarily be some underlying unity. I’m not only an architect by training, but also by temperament. A leads to B leads to C and there is a rigor in the development throughout.
I never quite think of my work as self-expression. On the contrary, to me it’s always about trying to get out of the way. (designing floor plans I used to imagine myself an archeologists, digging with my pencil until a building would appear.)