Birgit Zipser, watery fantasy, 11×14 inches, oil on panel

‘What I learned when I learned to draw’ by Adam Gopnick, The New Yorker, June 27th, discusses Jacob Collins‘ approach to drawing, which involves perceptual rather than conceptual viewing. The idea is to disengage from drawing symbols – conceptual schema of an arm or a face – and draw what you actually see. What you actually see may be a funny shape, a frog or an outline of a new African state, due to the play of light and shade on the body of the model. Thus, Gopnick was guided to learn to draw by ‘searching for strange shapes to break his symbol set’.

Jacob Collins in his “traditional realist revivalism” paints nudes, still lifes and landscapes. I may understand how the artist can draw a person modeling for him or cherries in a bowl by searching for shades and shapes rather than by using conceptual symbols. But doesn’t this approach break down when landscapes are drawn that contain water?

Water does not hold still for the slow musing approach to drawing that Adam Gopnick tells us Jacob Collins uses. My question is does Collins paint water using his symbol set of water?