Ken's Watercolors

Ken's Watercolors

Kerrie died at age 29 on August 1st, 1997. Her lung had suddenly collapsed
on July 26 and she was in intensive care for that entire week, never
regaining consciousness. Kerrie had chronic lung problems resulting from
long-term damage (3+ years later) from radiation and chemotherapy treatment
for Hodgkin's disease. We had been married for 5 1/2 months.

About 3-4 months after Kerrie died I had started taking a watercolor class
"for something fun to do." Kerrie and I had moved to the Northwest (all the
way from Virginia) only 4 months before she died. I have no friends or
family anywhere near Seattle. So basically without the watercolor class I
didn't ever have any reason to leave our apartment.

I tried keeping a journal of my thoughts, feelings, & memories. But I found
that I just could not do it. Out of frustration, one day I wrote: "I cannot
write a word in this damned book. Not a damned word."
Words are really inadequate to describe what has happened. That is why my
watercolors are the only outlet for me. These can be powerful, haunting
images and metaphors for those tremendous themes of loss, suffering &
devastation. Words cannot depict the concrete and stark reality of a thing.
An image can make real the inexpressible so that one may be begin to sense a
shadow of what is underneath.

Having said that, not all of the paintings are doom & gloom. I wrote a few
words about each one to put them in some context:

Bart vs. The Apple: I did this one as my first still life for a class
exercise. Still lifes tend to be stale and serious, but I decided to have
fun with it. Kerrie and I always liked to joke around and I know she would
have laughed with me at this one, so I really had mixed feelings when I
finished it and knew that I could not share it with her.

Hurricane Ridge: This one also started as a class exercise. Kerrie and I
had planned to visit Hurricane Ridge but never had a chance before she died.
I was there some months later and painted this scene based on a photo I had
taken while there.

Lake Louise: Lake Louise is a glacial lake in the Canadian Rockies. The
glacial silt gives it a truly unbelievable blue-green hue. I was in the area
for business travel and took a hike there. It was the first time I had been
away from home since Kerrie died so it was a very emotional trip for me.
The painting shows an accumulation of loose stone that had fallen into the
lake and collected at the base of a sheer rock face which rose sharply into
low, misty clouds. In the margin of the painting I had jotted "Collapse,
Downfall, Distentegration."

Aftermath: This is based on a photo I took at Mt. St. Helens. It struck me
as a very powerful image of what had become of my life. I think this is
probably my best painting to date.

Uprooted & Adrift: This is based on a photo I took on the Pacific Coast of
the Olympic Peninsula, showing an enormous uprooted tree (probably 6' or so
in diameter) that the ocean had tossed up on the shore here. While
preparing the initial sketch for the painting (which took forever to
finish!), I wrote in the margin: "Uprooted & Adrift -- On a Strange Shore."

Click on an image to get the larger version.













Bart vs. The Apple









Hurricane Ridge (Olympic Peninsula)



Lake Louise (Alberta, Canada)



"Aftermath" (Mount St. Helens)













"Uprooted & Adrift" (South Beach, Olympic Peninsula)





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