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Monday, September 26, 2005

Fabrications by John Emery

Last week I saw the most amazing exhibition of watercolor paintings I've seen in recent years. John Emery does what he calls "watercolor constructions," a combination of trompe l'oeil painting and three-dimensional paper sculpture. Emery does everything with paper and paint, but you would swear you're looking at a small animal's skull on a window sill with an assortment of real bird's nests.

Emery paints still lifes of aged leather journals, making the textured watercolor paper look exactly like old leather covers. He carefully crafts life-sized pens with nibs that look like metal. The journals are written in calligraphic hands in the manner of days gone by. One of his pieces includes an old "wooden" watercolor paint box with cakes of dried paint in the wells. Well, actually, paper painted to look like dried paint.

In addition to his meticulous craftsmanship in his constructions Emery is a skilled watercolor painter, using richly pigmented washes in the backgrounds of his works. His plein air paintings are a striking contrast to the constructions. They are small, very transparent and painted authoritatively with a large brush. Visit John Emery's web site to see a few of his works. Remember that everything you see is made of paper!

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