Mike Wests Watercolours

On A Lonely Road

Words

I began this series following a trip to Hawaii of all places. We had taken a drive around the far side of Maui beyond where civilisation comes to an end. The narrow road zigzagged left and right, up and down, through the black volcanic terrain. As I stopped to take photographs along the way, I was caught by how the road disappeared into dips appearing later in the distance, narrower and at one side or the other.

On reflection the emptiness seemed to reflect my current struggle with art. Since moving to Wisconsin in 2007, I have been working alone trying to find subjects and forms I can call my own. The roads are empty because, for now, I am on my own. They disappear into the distant horizon because I’m trying to get somewhere. The tarmac is smooth, the surrounding terrain is rough; there is contrast. The horizon slopes, it’s unsettling. It’s a stage I must go through, a learning process.

There is a path to follow, but I don’t know where it leads and unlike in earlier years, I have no guidance, companionship or distraction. I must decide through intuition and discovery where I should go, whether this road is the right one to follow.

The paintings that emerged are loosely based on photos and memories of that trip and others that followed. My colours, shapes and texture are largely imagined and discovered as each painting develops. A challenge I usually face is how to simplify, yet keep things interesting. I like to reduce the shapes in a painting to a minimum, combining, reducing and trying to create shapes that are engaging to the eye. Although they are based on reality, these shapes are not real, so the colours need not be either. Hopefully the outcome is not a picture of somewhere in particular, but an object of delight in itself.

Pictures

On A Lonely Road
 On A Lonely Road
 10" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $350


My Own Way
 My Own Way
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $800


No Compass, Map or Bearing
 No Compass, Map or Bearing
 14" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $600


Wrong Turn
 Wrong Turn
 21" x 29"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $800


I Can Get There
 I Can Get There
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $300


The Grass Is Always Greener
 The Grass Is Always Greener
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $300


Far Away
 Far Away
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $300


It's Further than I Thought
 It’s Further than I Thought
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $300


Journey to Flatlands
 Journey to Flatlands
 5" x 22"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Discovery
 Discovery
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Varnished $300


Unearthed
 Unearthed
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Varnished $300


Reveal
 Reveal
 11" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Varnished $300


Squash Players

Words

I have played squash all of my adult life. It’s a game likened, for my US readers, somewhat to racquetball on steroids. It’s fast paced and deceptively simple, two guys (or gals) hitting a ball against a wall. Beyond the angles and rules about lets, there is a world of personal discovery and education about the human condition. How far can you push yourself, what does it mean to win. Months of conditioning, training and practice, all come down to one moment: can you get to the ball, raise your racquet, aim and strike to outreach your opponent.

And your adversary, how does he behave when you have driven him to his limits. Is he gracious in defeat, fair playing, easily distracted, determined. Character is revealed when the pressure mounts and you learn a lot about a person by watching, not what they do, but how they do it.

In these paintings, I tried to use the shape created by the subject carefully, to carve out interesting negative areas and keep the eye moving around. Squash courts make boring backdrops, but close cropping helps. Again my shapes are somewhat exaggerated and not particular. Faces are often just another shape without distinguishing features. So also colour can be distorted and I look for combinations and contrasts that will catch the eye. As always the painting determines what it needs to be complete, not letting the subject demand too much attention.

My hope is to catch a moment in time, an expression or gesture which says it all, success or failure, comradeship or bitter enemies.

Pictures

Nicked
 Nicked
 21" x 18"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $400


High Backhand
 High Backhand
 21" x 18"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $400


ShortVolley
 Short Volley
 21" x 18"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Waxed $400


Commanding Position
 Commanding Position
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


In Control
 In Control
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Stretched to the Limit
 Stretched to the Limit
 21" x 29"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Waiting for an Opening
 Waiting for an Opening
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Touch
 Touch
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


At the Peak I
 At the Peak I
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


At the Peak II
 At the Peak II
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Loose Play
 Loose Play
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


On the Edge
 On the Edge
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Zoned In
 Zoned In
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Deception
 Deception
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Hidden Agenda
 Hidden Agenda
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Robosquash
 Robosquash
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Clinical Precision
 Clinical Precision
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Falling Behind
 Falling Behind
 21" x 29"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Hot Under the Collar
 Hot Under the Collar
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Smash
 Smash
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Leap of Faith
 Leap of Faith
 29" x 21"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $400


Echoes of Denali

Words

Inspired by my visit to the wilderness of Alaska, I painted these colourful landscapes on my return home from photographs and memories, trying to recall the impression it left upon me. I wanted to convey the natural beauty and vast expanse of this remote corner of the world, that even in a relatively warm August, displayed constant signs of danger. Icebergs and glaciers, wolves and bears, ferocious rivers carving out the land and vast weather systems threatening the sky. In a few weeks, the hordes of tourists and most of those who look after them will have left. The hotels closed, rafts, bikes, jeeps and buses all packed up for winter, leaving behind only the hardy few to survive the coming brutal winter.

We flew in a small plane to see Mount McKinley, following glaciers and ice flows, climbing ever higher to circle the highest peak in North America through swirling clouds. Later, as I painted aerial views of these glaciers, I became quite involved with their slow movement and evolution, the constant creation and destruction. And from the cruise ship at the head of a fjord, the sight of huge blocks crashing into the sea at the terminus is very dramatic. I felt the weight, movement and inevitability with every brush stroke.

I suppose the recent debates over drilling for oil in Alaska, the escalating disappearance of ice sheets and other effects of climate change have left me wondering how long this place will remain a wilderness. Go and see it now before it's too late.

Large areas of colour connected by lost and found edges are chosen for their emotional content and decorated with subtle gradients and textures. Colour contrast relies on hue and intensity, rather than value, to give simplified shapes identity.

These striking paintings symbolize the drama of wild and inhospitable places and their importance to our emotional and physical lives.

Pictures

Swirling
 Swirling
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Blue Ice Flow
 Blue Ice Flow
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Rising
 Rising
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Looming
 Looming
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Green Ice Flow
 Green Ice Flow
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Multicolour Ice Flow
 Multicolour Ice Flow
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Millions of Years
 Millions of Years
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Terminus
 Terminus
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Falling
 Falling
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Billowing
 Billowing
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Gazing
 Gazing
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Orange Ice Flow
 Orange Ice Flow
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Moose

Words

The Moose paintings started with a search for simplicity. In the first piece, I reduced the shapes to just three: foreground, subject and background. However, because of quirky shapes and colours, it’s less obvious which part of the painting belongs to what. You get a push/pull effect. I quickly became involved with the funky shapes made by the antlers, bits of coat hanging down and the signature hump.

In other paintings, I continued to look for ways to create interlocking shapes, keeping values close allowing colour contrasts to show and entertain the eye. Sometimes they seem quite humorous, anachronistic, unwieldy and out of place. You see them raising a head out of water covered in plant life and chewing something. At other times, they are camouflaged, mysterious and integrated in the landscape. Competing males standoff against one another during the rut, demonstrating their power and aggression, reminding us of the forces of natural selection.

These scenes are part narrative and part allegory. Mother and offspring reflect nurture and caring and the never ending cycle of life, a symbol of our connection to the natural world.

Mostly however, I saw Moose as an opportunity to apply style and design, to create interesting and entertaining art that pleased me.

Pictures

HiddenMoose
 Hidden Moose
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Water Moose
 Water Moose
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Drinking Moose
 Drinking Moose
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Matted $350


In Your Face Moose
 In Your Face Moose
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Standoff
 Standoff
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Camouflage
 Camouflage
 20" x 16"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Mountain Moose
 Mountain Moose
 16" x 20"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Painting Only $300


Out of Series

Words

Sometimes an idea crops up that begs to be painted and is not directly part of a series that I’m currently working on. These pieces are not purposefully related except perhaps by subject matter.

My earlier work was concerned with design and composition, looking for constructions that interested me. I have always been keen to explore shape and colour. More recently I have tried to begin with an idea or feeling, or at least search for one during the process.

Landscape

Sunset
 Sunset
 8" x 8"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $175


Hillside
 Hillside
 22" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Matted $350


Squall
 Squall
 22" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $400


Wisconsin
 Wisconsin
 14" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Matted $175


Oh Those Hills
 Oh Those Hills
 11" x 14"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Matted $175


Whorl
 Whorl
 14" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Matted $175


Figurative

ErrantBanker
 The Errant Banker
 28" x 27"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $600


Albert
 Albert
 14" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $200


Lost At Sea
 Lost At Sea
 22" x 30"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $800


Still Life

Losing Time
 Losing Time
 9" x 12"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $200


Pineapple Passion
 Pineapple Passion
 24" x 18"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $600


Peachy
 Peachy
 9" x 24"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $200


Pattern

Afterglow
 Afterglow
 21" x 11"
 Watercolour on Paper
 Framed & Glazed $200


About My Art

About Me

Mike West

I am English and a fairly recent expatriate to the US, where I began to draw and paint "just for something to do." I found that I enjoyed the freedom of expression and quickly became hooked. Like most new experiences I wasn’t sure what to expect and to this day continue to be surprised by how much there is to learn. Each door opens on a new world.

During my early years, I studied with a number of instructors at Silvermine School of Art in New Canaan, CT. Initially inspired by traditional English landscape watercolours, my thoughts about art, its creation and purpose have changed dramatically. I was fortunate to study with Phyllis Rutigliano, who managed to raise my expectations beyond the whats and hows. I would like to think now I have loftier ambitions for my art; my unique experience, a softer, kinder and more colourful environment. I count myself lucky to have this opportunity.

Over the years I have attended workshops with several nationally recognized watercolour artists, notably Skip Lawrence, whose approach to producing art has been a major influence. I am always amazed by the breadth of ideas and innovation of the many great artists I have met along the way to whom I am always grateful. I learnt something from each of you.

It’s good to seek the best advice, consequently my efforts are directed towards learning, development and creating a unique style that reflects my own experience. Whatever my attributes I have concentrated on producing the best art that I can.

I hope you will enjoy my paintings for a life time.

Materials

All the materials used in my artwork have been carefully selected to ensure their longevity. I have used only the best grade cotton rag papers and avoided colours that are considered fugitive or prone to fading.

I prefer to frame my own work so I know what materials have gone into making each piece. The support and mat I use are acid free and sealed against UV glass to create a dust free environment protected from the harmful effects of sunlight. The frames are usually poplar, finished with varnish to show the natural grain and are simple enough to allow the art to shine.

Where noted, some pieces are mounted on board and sealed with a protective layer of wax or varnish, which allows a more direct viewing experience. Some of these pieces I have float framed in wood.

Wherever I give dimensions they refer to the artwork size, whether painting only, matted or framed.

Sales

I am very pleased to be able to share my artwork with you and I hope that you find something which resonates with you.

It is always a great honour when someone decides they like a piece enough to want to hang it on their wall. All the works shown here with a price are for sale, please write, email or phone if you would like to make a purchase.

I am creating new paintings all the time, so it’s always worth coming back to see the latest additions.

Shows

My thanks to Damon Bourne at Madison Squash Workshop for hosting my current show On a Lonely Road. The show will be running through the summer of 2009 and an open house is being held on August 1st from 5pm to 9pm.

  • Summer 2008 A Common Thread Washington Mutual, Wilton CT

Links

Comments

Please leave a comment for me if you have anything useful to say about my artwork or this website, or if you like what you see and feel like giving my ego a boost. I would also be grateful to learn of any problems with the website so I can fix them.

I hope it goes without saying I reserve the right to remove anything offensive and spammers please don’t even bother trying.

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Contact

Mike West
S82W15900 Bass Bay Lane, Muskego WI 53150
(414) 235 9323
email: mike at mike-west dot com