This painting came from a very small black and white photograph from a travel album that had belonged to my mother. I had no idea who the figures were in the photo but I loved the feeling in it – one of relaxation and peace. To lie back in the water and find that place where it supports you and entices you look up into the sky or to close your eyes. How many times had I floated in the sea in this way enjoying the rocking of the waves and the feeling of weightlessness. The word “weightlessness” is significant to the story of the painting.

I often try to connect to a word or phrase at the start of a year and let that word or phrase lead me. It can be helpful if I am stuck on a painting in progress – to give direction as to what I need to do next or need to do more of. It can also help me if I get stuck when trying to make a decision – does it fit with my word/direction for the year. If for example, the word was “nourish”, how would this new idea help to nourish those involved or myself? How could the feeling of nourishment be conveyed in the combination of colours used – maybe lots of green surrounding a few strokes of orange.

In 2023 I had not been able to find such a word or phrase. I had searched through the Thesaurus for something like hover or glide, hum or vibrate but hadn’t landed on the right word. The theme of water had been very relevant however and I had enjoyed digging into the meaning of wells and springs in my times of spiritual reflection and Bible reading. It wasn’t until I was actually painting this picture that I had the light bulb moment and realised the word was weightlessness. But what did it mean to me? Ultimately it feels like it means to let go of anxieties and fears and live more in a place of trust. We have no control over so many things and we can consciously learn to live more from a place of faith, lifting off the heavy responsibility from our shoulders and pursuing a lighter, shared daily journey looking to Jesus. The buoyancy of the water helps to create the feeling of being spiritually upheld.
As I painted this and subsequent pieces I have tried to tune in to this word and reflect upon its significance.

I have described how this painting came from a black and white photograph so I will explain how I chose the colour. I had been playing around with spice colours – how they are instilled with time, heat and light and how they link us to beautiful tropical faraway places. These spices create an effect by their presence in terms of taste, aroma and colour and communicate warmth and vitality. I chose them to describe the journey of the holiday photograph – probably taken just after the second world war when Europe was again at peace. They create a whole new layer of meaning and expression to the black and white image adding feelings such as warmth, depth, ease and comfort. The bathers feel an integral part of the water and landscape.

If you like, the print is available here.