Carole McDermott uses the suggestive powers of watercolor—its ability to veil, drip and flow—to summon a sense of romance and joy in her New York City Central Park watercolors. She combines precise draftsmanship and accurate perspectives with open brushwork and adventurous paint. This handling creates works that describe specific places, but which remain suggestive and even a little mysterious. The palette is primarily natural, but McDermott has a fine sense of when to push and saturate a hue and when to relax into more subtle passages. Her work often projects a sense of haze, as though sunshine is chasing away the remnants of a mist. In this watery light, the world seems fresh, beguiling and full of promise.
The obvious intensity of feeling that McDermott brings to her subject is born of a deep knowledge of the park. “I’m a volunteer tour guide for Central Park Conservancy,” she says. “I spend quite a lot of time in the park and am awed by the genius and brilliance of its designers. I use the representational qualities of my watercolors to re-experience the radiant landscapes and bring the poetry of the pastoral scenes of Central Park to life.”
The artist can quote chapter and verse on the number of bridges, the subjects of the 51 statues and the meaning of the streetlights’ coding numbers. But most of all, McDermott is simply in love with Central Park as a place. “I think it’s so dynamic, so big and so romantic,” she says. “It’s somewhere you go alone to be with other people. And yet, everyone finds something particular about it for themselves. There’s nowhere else that I’ve been that has so much for so many.”
Learn more about McDermott’s art in the December 2016 issue of Watercolor Artist.