The pool is an inspiring place for a people watcher like me. It’s inspiring and often quite moving seeing other parents and grandparents tenderly playing with their kids and introducing them to the pool for the first time. The exchanged looks between them seem to communicate a myriad of feelings. I really enjoy being a part of it.
Anyway, the experience at the pool today made me think of the way some artists have tried to describe water and the experience of swimming and translate it into forms like painting. Here’s a few I particularly like…
Leon Kossoff’s thick, impastoed Sunday morning swimming pool series (above) completed in the 80’s must be some of his most joyful works. They are based in the East End of London, where Kossoff locates most of his work. They were some of the first paintings I was encouraged to look at as a student painter. They seem to really convey the light reflected from the shiny walls, water and mass of bodies, but also the noise of the busy pool. There is a nice one from this series in the collection at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.
Michael Andrews is an artist who explored lots of interesting ways to depict water, particularly in his paintings of the Thames Estuary. I’ve always liked this one below though of the artist with his daughter. It captures something of that tenderness between the parent and child.
It has been said that water is one the most difficult subjects to depict (alongside flowers). It has weight, volume, movement and light. I think David Hockney’s experiments with paint and also paper pulp (below) from the 1970’s are incredibly convincing, and also so visually exciting. He’s one of my favourite artists.
I’ve only ever done a couple of paintings of water, but it’s a subject I’ve thought about exploring further at some point with all the waterways and canals to be found in the region. They formed a big part of my early life growing up in the Black Country. There was rarely a weekend that I didn’t find myself cycling or walking alongside a canal somewhere during my teens.