Back on March 28, 2022 I shared a whimsical boathouse illustration including some of my creation process. At the time I conceived of the exercise as a way to exercise my rudimentary watercolor abilities while enticing the universe to hasten the spring-to-summer transition. Verdict is out on whether or not my efforts wooed the universe. But the practice was a pleasure, and I’m resolving to make time for more watercolor illustrations this autumn and winter.
You can click the back/forward arrows in the original Instagram post below to see some of the pre-finished phases.
B&W vs. Color Boathouse Illustration
So why revisit this potently pigmented image with achromatic ambitions?
I’ve been experimenting for about a decade with black and white as a visual storytelling medium (carpemidlife.com and @carpemidlife). It’s part of a larger project stretching my comfort with creative risk — in poetry, essay, and storytelling and in photographs, collage, illustration, mixed media mashups, and even a little bit of video — as a way to repurpose midlife malaise into midlife motivation. One of the early decisions I made for focusing and structuring the project was restricting all image-making (and writing, for that matter) to black and white. We live in an era of magnificent digital imaging, stunning verisimilitude, oversaturated colors, and a panoply of intelligent filters, algorithms, etc. to augment reality.
Make no mistake. I’m profoundly grateful to experience these magnificent modern advances in image making, but I find myself missing the granularity and character of the analog world. I explore this more at Carpe Midlife if provoked your curiosity. If not, I’ll return to the present context.
So often in our sweet sixteen years as the stewards of Rosslyn, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of old and new. In many respects rehabilitating Rosslyn and making our life here has blurred past, present, and future. History is alive. And similarly much of our quotidian existence is timeless. There’s a whimsical simultaneity of lives and times that infiltrates our lakeside lifestyle. And rather than resist it, I often find it enriching, even entertaining. And so I’ve come to playfully experiment, sometimes renovating that which is vintage or antique. Others times I accelerate aging. Or agelessness. And sometimes these shifts in perspective yield surprising, often refreshing new experiences.
I was curious to see what might happen by repurposing a colorful new illustration as a colorless facsimile. Stripping away the cheerful colors, what remains? Is it an anemic phantom image? Does the emphasis change? The feeling?
In my opinion there’s a world of difference between what I notice visually and what I feel internally in response to the black and white boathouse illustration at the top of this page and the color-soaked original below. What do you think?
From Boathouse-lust to Wonder-lust
If you’re a longtime reader and you’re detecting a subtle shift in some of these recent blog and social media posts, you’re not wrong. You’re perceptive.
There is a shift underway. Like so many whose views and lifestyles have evolved over the last couple of years — pandemic year and post-pandemic year (if we’re bold enough to assume the latter) — Susan and I have new stories to share about Rosslyn. We’re navigating a liminal space that is still unfurling it’s mysteries for us. As we find our way, I’ll share the experience. With a little luck, we will share the experience.
But for now, I just want to acknowledge that this period of introspection and reflection and significant transition for us is undoubtedly woven into posts like this one. Sometimes familiarity and comfort are exactly what we need. And sometimes wondering and wandering away from the familiar and the comfortable can be just as important.