Artist Janet Hassinger shares a selection of vibrant watercolors that highlight the ethereal beauty of the endangered coral reef. Visit her website to see more of her art.
Island life has always been my life.
My childhood summers were spent on an island north of Boston where I played in tidepools teeming with flora and fauna. In graduate school I studied on the island of Venice. Later, I owned a home on an island in the Cayos Cochinos off the coast of Honduras. Today I live on Galveston Island. As you can see, I have a great love affair with the ocean.
All of these island experiences shaped my art. The strongest influence occurred when I was diving in the Mesoamerican Reef. While drifting through the fringe reef, time suspended and the outside world disappeared. I felt inspired to express its beauty through painting.
Following each dive I recorded the colors, shapes, and light that I had experienced into watercolor sketches that I call memories of plein air.
I used these watercolor sketches for my current painting series Lost Seas. Over the years, I watched the coral bleaching and algae growth threaten my ocean garden. This series is inspired by my concern for the health of all oceans, especially the coral reef which I am intimate with through my years of scuba diving.
This vision includes the translation of the shapes and color in the reef, the experience of floating and an awareness of the dying beauty of these underwater gardens.
It is my hope that my work will bring attention to the plight of ocean ecology.
The process of painting is like the experience of flowing with the currents and meditating on its waving movement. My style has evolved to an impressionistic vision punctuated with organic species.
Each painting begins with an unpredictable flow of water and pigment. Then I use graded washes in veiled layers to create rich color and complex forms. My creative process is problem solving, making decisions utilizing a variety of techniques.
My classical training provided a great foundation for teaching and curating. Years of teaching deepened my understanding of watercolor techniques. Curating exposed me to the variety of contemporary artistic expression around me.