Rory McEwen: The Colours of Reality by Martyn Rix
I first became aware of the work of Rory McEwen when I read this blog post on Katherine Tyrell’s Making a Mark blog. Then by coincidence a dear friend of mine gave me this monograph of his work, and all I can say is that I often lose an hour or more when I open this book because I spend so much time looking at each plate.
Rory McEwen’s career was long and varied, intermixing his interest in botanical art and jazz music. This book covers both, though mainly focusing on his art.
I particularly like his stark compositions of flowers, how they are placed on backgrounds that are totally void of anything, thus really focusing attention on the minute details he captured and recorded. His technique most often employed watercolor on vellum, a method that employs a very dry application of highly saturated watercolor to its support.
However, there is one small section that deviates from his typical technique, its of his exploration of watery watercolors and grasses. These images really capture my imagination, because of the variety of line and form in these pieces. Some areas of the watercolors were allowed to bloom and blossom, creating fuzzy and soft edges, and then there were areas of rigorous precision and edge, much like his more typical work.