Andrew Polk

Why I Watercolor

As a younger artist, I hated to travel because of my dependence on my studio. I did not know how to make art without my equipment, tools, and space. Later, when I began to traveI, I had to work in whatever space was available – in a hotel room, on a train, out from under a roof, etc. – and with a medium that I could transport and easily clean up. I had previously disliked watercolor for being so unforgiving, but now its simplicity and portability made it the perfect traveling medium.

I had a colleague, Bruce McGrew, who was a master of watercolor. I thought of him as a friend and as someone I greatly admired. When he died, his death effected me intensely. During my administrative years, I made unpopular decisions which caused hurt and ultimately cost me some valued friendships. One of the most extreme of these was how I dealt with filling his position after his death. Many saw my actions as callous and uncaring. I still obsess about this, but I don't know that I would do things differently if I had it to do over again. It occurs to me occasionally, that I may have been attracted to watercolor as a way of reconciling myself with Bruce.Maybe in some ways, my watercoloring extends his legacy.

Another of my colleagues once reminded me that “no serious artists does watercolor”. I think about this often, and about how that statement served as a challenge.