I paint with Gouache, also known as opaque watercolor, the same medium used by the late African American artist Jacob Lawrence, and experimented with by artist such as Dali, Picasso, Klimt and numerous other well known artist. My work is done primarily using a dry surface and not the traditional wet on wet watercolor technique. As a self taught artist , this technique was developed accidentally and I had no idea that in watercolor, sizing (wetting the paper) was important. According to Ralph Mayer’s’ Artist Handbook, “gouache paints are opaque and have (or should have)a total hiding power, and because they do not become progressively transparent with age as oil have a tendency to do...gouache has a brilliant light-reflecting quality of a different and distinct nature; it lies in the paint surface itself; its whiteness or brightness comes from the use of white pigments”.
Originating from Ghana, West Africa, the suns’ strength is ever present providing a colorful environment which is strongly reflected in our clothing and culture. The density and opacity of gouache allows me to give the viewer a small window into this beautiful and wonder filled land. When I visit home, I take lots of pictures of the places I grew up in and sketch them freehand onto tracing paper. This enables me to get as close as possible to the natural and original feel of the scene. I then transfer the sketched and corrected image onto watercolor paper normally 300# paper. Heavy paper enables me to do numerous lifts and scrubbing to achieve the necessary textures, and emotional quality one would encounter in a marketplace, chop bar(restaurants/eateries), and beaches etc. It takes on average of two days for a small painting , and up to six weeks or more for a larger painting. My work requires a lot of patience and detailed work.
Currently, my work dwells mainly on fishermen and their culture, market scenes and women portraits. The fishermen scenes are imbedded with other Ghanaian symbols to further elaborate and tell the stories of fishermen and their lifestyle.
When I was growing up, my father , a history professor, wanted me to follow in his footsteps. Initially, I protested vehemently, and now I find myself telling the history of my people with a brush…….who would have predicted I would be so fortunate and blessed.
Osibisa Fine Arts
309 West Saint Julian Street
Savannah, Ga. 31401
Phone: 912 210-0248
Facebook: Osibisa Fine Art by William Kwamena-Poh