“In August 2019 I participated in an artists residency in New Brunswick, Canada at Kingsbrae Gardens: a 27-acre garden that includes thousands of species of flowers, shrubs, roses, and trees. As artist-in-residence, I had early-morning access to the gardens before the general public could enter at 9am. In the chilly maritime air (the temp at sunrise was often around 55° F) I painted watercolors of flowers from direct observation. It was magical to have the flowers all to myself; to study them at close range for an extended period of time. The act of painting slowed me down and made me connect with the flowers in a new way. I literally got down to the flower’s level, often working cross-legged sitting on the ground. Watercolor was a new medium for me at that time, and there was much to learn. Looking back at this body of work, I see a rawness in the early watercolors that I was unable to achieve as I learned more. The early works (Conversation with Dahlia, Nasturtiums at Dawn), are some of my personal favorites.
The medium of watercolor has a long history as the artist’s favored medium for travel. Compact, easy to set-up, and easy to clean-up, it’s a convenient way to take art materials out into the world. The recent retrospective of paintings by Winslow Homer at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York includes numerous masterful watercolors, showing the artist’s engagement with the places he visited (such as the Maine coast and Bermuda). For Homer, photography (still then a cumbersome and expensive medium) was not an option. Watercolor served a journalistic function: a way to record observations quickly, on-the-go.
Armed with an iPhone, I captured images of flowers for future reference. Still, I felt compelled to use watercolor to record my observations and explore a looser painting style. And, to make the process of transporting paper into the gardens easier, I stretched watercolor paper over wooden stretcher bars. That is why the works are able to be presented unframed for this show (although they can be framed, as well).
After the residency and back in my studio in Queens, I used some of my observations to make acrylic paintings of flowers. The tiger lily became an important theme, and I returned to it with several acrylic works (Yellow Tiger Lily; Bee on a Flower) that are included here.
As a design enthusiast, I admire the beautiful and historic decor of Troutbeck. So I’m thrilled to share this special body of work here.”
— Eric Hibit, 2022