A few short words: many of my paintings are characterized by a certain degree of visual distortion, and are created with either oil or acrylic paint on canvas.
Perhaps this is because my eyesight is affected by myopia and astigmatism.
In 2006, I sustained a serious injury to my spinal cord, which presented me with significant challenges in continuing my work as a visual artist.
This has accentuated the degree of variation and uncertainty in the way I apply paint to a canvas with a brush, knife or other tool, and gives my work a unique look and feel.
In terms of colour and style, I work with a full palette, and the execution may vary from realist to semi-abstract. If there is a general theme, or continuity that runs through my work, it might be a sense of fluidity, balance, and wonderment at the world in which we live.
The big statement
My name is Norval Watson. I am an artist, and the majority of my work is created with either oil or acrylic paint on canvas. I also also enjoy working with sound, and the moving image, but I am perhaps best known for my 2D visual art.
My tools include soft and firm bristle brushes and palettes knives, and occasionally an airbrush. When I began painting, I worked predominantly in acrylic. The fast drying nature of this medium can make blending colours rather difficult. This characteristic of acrylic (synthetic polymer) paint inspired a switch to oil-based media. Recently, I have been working very successfully with the new breed of slow-dry acrylic paints.
In 2006, I sustained a serious injury to my spinal cord, which presented me with significant challenges in continuing my work as a visual artist. For several years, I worked from a wheelchair, but have recently been able to return to painting from a standing position. I have significant loss of function and feeling in my hands and fingers, but dedication, perseverance, and adaptation have allowed me to renew my love for painting again.
During my career I have created paintings in many sizes, including interior and exterior murals totalling 100 square metres or more in area. In 2010, I turned my attention to creating smaller canvases, usually 12 x 16” (30 x 40 cm) in size. I enjoy working at this scale, but in 2017 I am working again on larger supports, often measuring 36 x 48″ (92 x 122 cm).
My paintings are usually created in layers. I like to put down an underpainting as fast as possible, covering every square centimetre of the canvas. This underpainting is then refined with several more layers, as I move closer and closer to the result I am hoping to achieve.
The landscape and marine paintings that form a substantial part of my body of work are often distinguished by a certain degree of visual distortion. In particular, I am fond of presenting the horizon line in my work as a curve rather than a straight line. The angle of view I depict my work is often quite large, and this is how I actually see the horizon in real life.
Visual distortion is also present in many of my other paintings, including portraits and allegorical works.
My eyesight is affected by myopia and astigmatism. Some well-known artists believed to have experienced vision impairment include Monet, Degas, Rembrandt and Georgia O’Keeffe.
I have long been a champion of the “happy accident” as a part of the creative process. Humans are not robots, and there is always a certain amount of variation in the way the artist applies marks to a surface.
As mentioned before, in 2006 I became disabled, or perhaps differently-abled, as the result of a serious spinal injury to my neck. This has accentuated the degree of variation and uncertainty in the way I apply paint to a canvas with a brush, knife or other tool.
This gives my work a unique characteristic.
I am happy working in either oil or acrylic on canvas, or indeed with a variety of mediums including watercolour, gouache, pastel and other drawing media on paper. Right now, in 2015, I am working extensively with acrylic paint, particularly the newly available slow-dry formulations of archival-quality material. Although this paint remains “open” much longer than standard acrylic paint, it dries more quickly than traditional oil paint, which can sometimes take months to dry properly. I also enjoy the lack of fumes when using synthetic polymer paints.
The subject matter that I choose to portray in my work could generally be classified as either landscape (including seascape), allegory, or portraiture.
The style in which I work varies from realist to semi-abstract. At times I enjoy the technical challenge of creating a realistic interpretation of my chosen subject matter, but also gain a similar enjoyment from using more gestural and expressionist brushstrokes to achieve a more abstract result.
This variation in the execution of my work emerges from my ongoing interest and desire to try something new.
Often, when I am looking at the great paintings of the world, I ask myself “I wonder if I could achieve a similar result?”
I hope that people viewing my work do so with an open mind. Personally, it can take months, or even years, for me to realise what one of my artworks might be “about”. I think that people are moved in some way by a particular artwork because it resonates with them on a very personal and often subconscious level. No matter how well I might know a person who views my work, I have absolutely no idea which one of my paintings they might choose as their favourite. And often the choice they make comes to me as a complete surprise.
Colour is very important in my work, but I always endeavour to work with as simple a palette as possible. It usually comprises two browns, two siennas, two blues, two yellows, a red, and white. Many years ago I had the good fortune to work alongside an elderly painter from Western Australia. He taught me a very simple colour theory: “from dark to light, coming to surprise”.
I try not to be didactic in my work, and if there is some kind of visual question, riddle, or conundrum that remains un-solved in a particular painting, so much the better.
If there is a general theme, or continuity that runs through my work, perhaps it is a sense of fluidity, balance, and wonderment at the world in which we live.
I endeavour to express my subject matter using a formal structure that enables the viewer to become one with the art, rather than evaluating the work from a purely objective point of view.