I am rapidly approaching the last few pages of a watercolor journal I began back in 2014. It was a bit large for putting in a carryon bag. It sat at home for many years with the occasional watercolor to try something new before I attempted it on my more precious; more expensive Arches cold press 100% cotton watercolor block.
My how the world has changed in the past eight years! I have had at least four cellular phone changes and with that technology came hundreds of photographs to document our travels in Europe, the Caribbean, and stateside from Santa Barbra, California to Key West, Florida.
In all those travels with a backpack in Florence, Italy and London, England that particular watercolor journal sat under appreciated, under used. What changed was my use of paper; the pandemic, lockdown and the shortages that followed. I began to count, literally count every single page of clean, unused paper in my journals; almost hording them sparingly as if frugality would change the topsy-turvy emotional rollercoaster of what a global pandemic will inflict on my subconscious. Cotton is grown in fields like corn or potatoes and people need to collect it and prepare it for processing. If people were too ill to work in factories, then all crops would suffer.
Paper; regardless of quality and cost is the means by which we document our lives; whether an inexpensive composition notebook from the grocery store in which I may record ideas or European cotton paper produced as it has been for hundreds of years in France. As modern as our world becomes I still like the tactile quality of paper; it is real, not an image on a screen.
Every instance we think the World has finally calmed down, or found a new normal rhythm something like a new wave of the dreaded modern plague we all know now simply as Covid is discovered perpetuating the waiting for normal.
Only we realized on February 24th that while we were waiting for the all clear to resume travel to European cities, revisit museums of international treasures of western culture, while we waited and waited an evil creature has been plotting to return his country to an imagined medieval glory. While everyone on the planet has been keyed up to leap forward he, and you know of whom I write, is attempting to turn the world backwards to an imagined, delusional vision of greatness.
We stand on the sidelines of history as this individual; who exhibits all the nasty, ungracious, psychotic behavior as the Queen of Hearts in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film. While Wonderland needed The Alice to fight the Queen of Heart’s jabberwocky, what we may see is that for the citizens of Ukraine they are each and collectively The Alice battling a monster of mythic proportions.
We stand in awe of their determination and courage and praying that they succeed; that the jabberwocky will falter and will fail. We pray for Ukraine, we cheer for them because in our own hearts we recognize if this Heartless Queen wins this battle will it be enough? Sadly we know that there will be more and more this unappeasable monster will claim like coins dropped on a sidewalk during a scuffle.
What has this war shown me in relation to my art, is by all means paint the picture but do it in a notebook that will fit in a backpack, because we too may need to dodge bombs.