“Departure” 12.5″ x 30″ acrylic/watercolor painting ©1987 Sold.
This painting represents a significant change in my style, a departure if you will, and the beginning of my use of the technique of pointillism (tiny dots of color). In 1987 I was confined to bed rest for a myriad of back, neck and shoulder injuries so painful that I could not raise my right arm and was ordered to spend time flat on my back. During the long, slow recovery my husband set up a jerry rigged easel propped over my body so that I could reach a painting surface without raising my upper arm. We resolved the how-to-see-the-palette issue by placing it on my chest with a mirror attached to the easel overhead. I mixed paint watching in the mirror and applied acrylic with a tiny brush using small dot like strokes, I was able to work for short periods without fatiguing my shoulder, neck, and back. “Departure” was painted entirely with this method and took about six weeks to complete. After that I could stand on my feet or sit for a few minutes at a time, I set a timer for very short intervals to paint at my easel between bed rest. I had no idea I was painting pointillism, I was just trying to survive and figured once healed I’d go back to my regular watercolor technique. Well, it has been 22 years and I’m still painting dots. Styles emerge, we can’t force them. Evidently I needed an accident to find mine. “Departure” depicts the magnificent Trumpeter Swan as they splash their seven foot wing spans across the water during take off.
Gail Niebrugge, Alaska wildlife artist