"...the serenity of Michael Bentley's watercolor speaks about the artist's eternal fascination with the elements of nature ..."
Charlotta Kotik, former Curator of Contemporary Art at the Brooklyn Museum
Works on Paper - Artist Statement
I’ve been very fortunate to live on and experience the pristine Eastern shore of Nova Scotia.
Since 2010, my works on paper have focused primarily on Abstract Seascapes.
Seeing the dramatic shifts in the weather patterns - from raging seas to the surreal stillness
of glass, and all in between, leaves me in a daily state of awe of which there are no words.
I try to express it in the paintings. What drives and inspires me has always been nature and
spirituality, which I feel are infinitely intertwined together. There is no escaping the impact
of raw nature on the body, mind and soul. A very personal, yet universal sentiment.
With the state of the world these days, for me, these works lean more towards tranquil, calm
imagery to generate a sense of sanctuary in quiet beauty. Even the physical process of capturing
my version of this complex ecosystem brings me a sense of peace, just to be in that mindset.
My medium is gouache on paper, with an archival finishing process to allow the work to be
viewed without being under glass. The vastness of the landscape lends itself to large format
which has led me to work with pieces sizing up to 4 x 8 feet. The size feels appropriate and
my goal is to draw the viewer into the image.
The method involves multiple layers of washes. There’s an inherent freedom to the application
as the gouache allows for fluidity and movement. The transformation of the pigment and
texture as it dries and bonds to the paper is what always keeps me coming back to gouache.
The process is the same whether I work on one, or a dozen. I usually work on a body of work,
at least twelve at a time, flat on the ground, working over them, moving from piece to piece,
building the paintings simultaneously. It is always changing and challenging, much like the sea
itself. The paintings aren’t meant to depict a particular place, but to bring a place to mind.
Thomas Merton explained it so well when he said,
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”
© Michael Bentley 2011-2019