Sandra Woods
Art despite pain

In the news

(posted on 26 May 2024)

I signed this painting today, after looking at it with ‘fresh eyes’ once I had set it aside for a week. There’s a saying, for watercolours in particular, that too often a painting is ruined when the artist tries to ‘finish it’. The point is that, to maintain the ephemeral qualities of watercolour pigments, it’s usually best to leave something to the viewer’s imagination in any given scene.

This has definitely been true for some of my paintings, when I’ve wished that I could go back and remove the last brushstroke – or even the entire last wash (layer) of a multi-layered watercolour.

To be honest, sometimes I get so caught up in the shimmering dance of pigment and water on a surface that I forget to think about what I’d planned to paint in the first place; I become enthralled by the sheer joy of experimenting with the movement and blending of pigments on the page.

That’s what happened with this one, but only in the underpainting and first washes; I’d already mapped out in my mind – and in my sketchbook! – what I wanted to convey.

"Cosmic crocuses" is another of my watercolour experiments, this time centered around the concepts of fragility and resilience.

The first-glance or obvious link is between the changes to our planet (and to our solar system) and how these changes will affect the spring flowers and other plants that we take for granted. Not only at a global, regional, or local scale, but also as individual plants.

Is there a limit to the resiliency of all the flowers that bloom year after year, like old friends, in your garden – or mine? How can we help them adapt, flourish, and thrive in changing conditions?

The deeper meaning of this painting is applying the same question to individual human beings... What are the impacts of climate change and other changes (conflicts, discrimination, education, employment issues, healthcare, wars, and more) on individual people? How can we help them adapt, flourish, and thrive in changing conditions?

This is what can happen when a bioethics and philosophy nerd learns to paint. Many of my paintings are simply scenes that caught my eye, usually while out cycling or hiking. My experimental paintings, however, are more about concepts and philosophical constructs – and almost always questions.

This is also true of my chronic pain awareness paintings, as part of my Art Despite Pain initiative.