Inspired by the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson, Dianne Bowell captures the essence of freedom and sorrow in Music of the waves. The artwork is layered with texture and different mediums, lending to a visual complexity that invites the eye to revisit the painting over and over. Music of the Waves has a very distinct connection with the ocean though Dianne Bowell’s use of blues, whites, and even golden hues. Part abstract and part a study of the human form, the piece yields a stunning sensuality.
What makes this piece great is that the layers work in harmony with each other rather than compete for the space on the canvas. Additionally, the artist understands the importance of highlighting the curvature of the figure as well as leaving details unhighlighted for the viewer to interpret. As such, the eye is constantly taking in the entirety of the painting, finding new details and depth.
Music of the Waves was created by Dianne Bowell during the pandemic lockdown. And while this piece stands artistically on its own, you can notice the influences of social restriction, withdrawal, and solitary feelings. But to further understand the complexity of the piece we asked the artist to elaborate. Here are some of the points we thought you may like to know.
Apart from the little mermaid influence, was there a particular artist or exterior influence which contributed to the overall concept of this piece?
Throughout my art practice over the years my work is always, and continues to be influenced by the work of Gethard Richter, particularly his early work, though that is not particularly obvious in this piece. At the time I was creating this piece I had become fascinated with the work of Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012), she is well known for her early surrealist paintings, but I am particularly interested in her later more abstracted paintings.
The blues in this piece are very captivating and keep with some of the other pieces that you have done. However, there does seem to be a bit more intensity in the mediums used in this artwork as compared to some of your other work. Can you please describe the reasons that you chose the different mediums that used on Music of the waves?
The majority of the time, when I am painting, I have an end image in mind, and certainly a starting reference image/ life model, however with this piece I had no goal or finished image in mind, nor did I work from a reference image. This piece created itself for the abstract marks of ink and acrylic, build up in layers and worked into with acrylic markers to highlight the figure which was emerging from the abstract. Highlights were also picked out with silver leaf, you can mainly see this at the top of the painting above the head.
When creating pieces of art, such as this painting, what is the process that you usually go though?
All of the work that I create is a process of many layers, most of the time I start with figurative line drawing in water based inks, which is sprayed with water to bleed and move (here, just ink and no drawing was the starting point). This is left to dry, on a flat surface, which brings its own marks of pooling ink and movement, once dry the process is repeated many times with more inks, or acrylics then introducing gold or silver leaf, markers and varnish. Most of my paintings have 10+ full coverage layers, which become increasingly transparent, the whole process is visible in the surface of the painting.
Overall, what were the biggest struggles and accomplishments that you feel this piece captures?
The main struggle with this piece was the size, as its quite large 76x50cm, as this piece was painted during the covid pandemic, at the time our studios were closed so my only option was to work at home, I was mainly working on piece A4 or smaller because the work needs to dry flat. But I managed to work on this larger piece, letting it dry on the floor or sometimes flat on my bed. I feel that it certainly expresses a type of escapism which I was trying to achieve through painting at this tumultuous time.
Music of the Waves is an interesting name for a piece. Obviously, there is a visual connection with the fluidity of the painting and the name. However, can you tell us a little bit more about how you came up with the name for this piece of artwork?
This painting was created when I was exploring the Original and dark tale of The Little Mermaid, and this quote is where the title comes from;
‘So I am to die and float like foam on the sea, not hear the music of the waves, see the lovelyflowers and the red sun! Is there nothing I can do to gain an eternal soul!’”
In this part of the story the little mermaid is expressing a desire to be human, to have an immortal soul, to experience all the things humans experience including hearing the music of the waves, however if she remains a mermaid, in the sea like the rest of her family she will live for 300 years, and eventually become a part of the sea, a part of the music of the waves. The little mermaid can not see the beauty in the life she already has and wishes for more. This part of the story was very poignant to me at that time, as we were all experiencing that lockdown, that slowing down, a time when nature started to return and we could hear real birdsong again. This made me think that for so many years, the norm was to reach for more, bigger better, the greener grass on the other side, and not take the time to appreciate the moment, the beauty, right here, right now.
This painting is about the NOW, what the little mermaid could have experienced, if she had just stopped and listened.
Music of the Waves is part of the Den Lille Harfrue Collection – the little mermaid. The size of this piece is 76 X 50 X 3 cm gallery wrapped.
View more artwork by Dianne Bowell