WATERCOLOR, Summer 1996, an American Artist Publication.
Reprinted by Permission.
below: After New Zealand,
1996, watercolor, 40 x 27. Private Collection.
Weiss still layers her watercolors. This technique, which
was described in Watercolor Bold & Free, involves
painting on both sides of a sheet of watercolor paper,
which she continually flips onto the top of a slick-surfaced
table. As the paper is turned front-to-back, it picks
up the pigment deposited on the table by the previous
flips, thereby layering the colors and creating effects
that are evocative of natural organic shapes, her chief
interest. She uses this staining and layering technique
at least half the time, she says.
The Madison, Wisconsin, artist is equally well-known for
her direct painting of natural subjects and the ways in
which she depicts refracted light.
"l use different papers for different techniques," she
says. She finds that her staining and layering technique
works best on paper with random texture, such as Cassson
1059 (formerly Morilla 1059). "Sometimes I use Strathmore
hot-pressed smooth paper, but I never use standard rough
paper because the texture is too uniform.
"I look for textures and then develop them into subject
matter," she continues. "I am interested in elements of
nature writ large: painting the surfaces of rocks; looking
up through a tree rather than at the tree; or letting
the movement of a waterfall be dictated by the forms as
they develop, as seen in my painting, After New Zealand."
Weiss is called upon to judge many shows across the country.
"I nearly always accept these invitations," she says,
"because it's so exciting to see all the experimentation
going on in watercolor." She laughs and says, "These days
it's fun to be an old-timer."
Old-timer or not, Lee Weiss is still trying out new ideas.
Recently, she began experimenting with acrylics on canvas.
"I do it on weekends to try something new and find that
it quickens my interest," she says. "It has helped improve
my watercolors, giving me more clarity of color, but I
still prefer watercolor." She continues to work on a large
scale, usually about 30" x 40". Once or twice a year she
does "a six-footer," she says.
Her recent paintings are currently on view at the Neville
Public Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin, until August 4,
1996. Her works are in the permanent collections of The
Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American
Art and the National Air and Space Museum, as well as
in The Phillips Collection, all in Washington, D.C.
"I want to create, not recreate," she says. "When you've
been painting as I have for 35 years, you've painted nearly
everything once. The challenge is to find a new way to
do it, something new to say.
"As a painter, I found my niche in nature. It's where
I go to restore my soul and spirit, both in reality and
in imagination. I am concerned for its welfare as, I am
sure, it is for ours. We need to celebrate -- and save
-- each other."
Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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by Lee Weiss.