The following is part of a series featuring a leader in the art community who will be joining us on the faculty of Watercolor Live, a virtual art conference taking place January 26-28, 2023, with a Beginner’s Day on January 25.
A Watercolor Tour Through the Meanderings of the Human Soul
by Laura Vailati
Art enthusiast and Editor at Miami Niche
Artist Patricia Guzmán’s intimate watercolor portraits place the viewer at the center of an intense dialogue in which the artist gives voice to the human condition.
This refined voice, poignant and touching, finds its greatest expression in the depiction of the aboriginal peoples who inhabit her native country of Mexico, and who make up the “Roots” series, one of the most moving series created by the artist.
Guzmán possesses a remarkable ability to transit human emotions in the expressiveness of faces, which derives from the teachings of her father: an artist and sculptor, who taught her the fundamentals of art, including colored pencil techniques (the first technique experimented with by Guzmán and in some respects akin to the technique of watercolor).
To her training, she then added patience and a willingness to experiment with the innumerable properties of watercolor, allowing herself to be surprised by the medium and without allowing herself to be intimidated or constrained either by technical purism or by the rigidity of the medium, renowned among the most complex technique for its difficulty of execution.
Perseverance and patience are qualities that also characterize the artist, who is endowed with a nobility of spirit and has honed her personal sensitivity in the representation of human expressiveness, rendered perfectly especially through the faces of elderly subjects and children. Her degree in philosophy, achieved only in adulthood thanks to the money scraped together from making commissioned works, finally enabled her to investigate, more accurately, human thought and the turmoil of the soul with all its frailties, weaknesses, and strengths.
Guzmán has participated in numerous international competitions and exhibitions, including the ARC Salon, the MEAM Museu European d’Art Modern, the Biennial International Prize Fabriano Watercolor, and the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale National Art Museum of China, to name a few. These competitions have earned her prestigious worldwide recognition and have allowed her to place herself among the most appreciated protagonists in the international watercolor portraiture scene.
In creating “portraits of the human nature,” Guzmán was inspired both by the ideas of writer Carlos Castañeda, who has composed numerous anthropological-narrative works inspired by shamanism and by the “lyrical works” of two great Chinese artists whom Guzmán had the pleasure of meeting personally in 2018: Liu Yunsheng and Guan Wei Xing.
As with Liu Yunsheng and Guan Wei Xing, Patricia Guzmán’s works are a combination of reason and emotion, exquisitely pervaded, however, by the artist’s all-female sensibility.
In carrying out her work, Guzmán takes photographs in aboriginal reserves, which she accesses only after applying for a special permit. In taking the shots, which she normally performs in the company of Raúl Barajas – her life partner, a psychologist with a passion for photography – she stands at a proper distance making use of telephoto lenses, so as to avoid influencing in any way the spontaneity of the locals.
The photographic shots later become valuable references on which to draw in the realization of her paintings, in which the detail of the face is contrasted with the realization of the outline elements with the technique of painting alla prima, with which the artist leaves room for subjective narration.
For the rendering of details, Guzmán proceeds by using as many as thirty to forty layers of transparent watercolor, which she spreads on a watercolor sheet of high weight and capable of supporting both the color and the water absorbed in the different technical stages employed: from wet-on-wet to wet-on-dry, to finishing the details with a dry brush.
Although watercolor is one of the most difficult techniques, Guzmán argues that it is possible to correct mistakes. This is a compositional and narrative achievement that the artist has arrived at with much patience and perseverance, experiencing the richness of the medium, of which she says: “Watercolor is a very noble medium; with love, patience, and discipline you will be able to love it and to create wonderful watercolors.”
Visit EricRhoads.com (Publisher of Realism Today) to learn about opportunities for artists and art collectors, including Art Retreats – International Art Trips – Art Conventions – Art Workshops (in person and online, including Realism Live) – And More!