There is no better way to relax than in a hammock with a good book. Lacking these facilities, this watercolour painting at least brings the feeling to my mind. The light colours convey the refreshing calmness of a warm, slightly cloudy day without wind. The boats have docked for the day, the traffic on the river quieted. Time to relax.
The American artist John Singer Sargent is renowned for his excellent watercolours. He travelled extensively in Europe and America and captured the impressions of his travels on paper. He was visiting a friend in Miami when he painted this watercolour. I imagine it was a recreative visit and instead of filling the days with activities, they enjoyed each other’s company sitting quietly by the river.
When painting, the focus is fully on the subject, the paper and the colours on your brush. It is a meditative work and this sense of concentration and relaxation comes across excellently in this painting. There is no anxious fiddling in the painting. Every brushstroke is in its place, laid down with the confidence of long-term practice and expertise. With just a few, expressive strokes he adds details like the folds of the shirt, pillow and hammock. The shading on the book cover and the column on the left seem like quick smudges, yet suit the lighting perfectly.
The painting exudes concentration, confidence and calmness. All qualities that I feel I need more of, and thus help me to rebalance on a personal basis.
Artwork: John Singer Sargent, Figure in Hammock, Florida, 1917. Seen in American Drawings and Watercolours in the Metropolitan Museum of Art: John Singer Sargent.