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Thinking Blue

Mark Barry, The Swimmers, 2004, oil on canvas, 34 x 30 inIt's spring and I should be thinking mostly of flowers, green, and this year's crop of cicadas, but I can't seem to get blue out of my head. Blue skies and the ocean blue.

On my recent Belize trip (see my post on March 22), I watched two men, who turned out to be a father and son, bobbing in the ocean and talking, about one hundred yards off shore. It was a breezy late afternoon, and the sun was setting, making the water an ever deeper blue. All that was visible of the two were their heads. The sun shimmered across the water, illuminating their faces. I quickly made a watercolor of the scene, actually two, and later gave one to the father. This led to a discussion of our mutual appreciation of how precious these moments with our sons and daughters are. Without a doubt that's true, but for me it was the scene that stayed with me most. The two figures isolated, bobbing among all that shimmering blue, the mystery below the surface. It's a very powerful image that will appear in my work for some time in one form or another.

For now, the figures have appeared in several more drawings and watercolors (Swimmers and Swimmers 2) and two paintings (including The Swimmers, shown here). I've been meditating on an image for a woodcut and this may well be it.

Of the thousands of images that pass through our senses daily, I'm amazed at what resonates and morphs into so many possibilities.

Mark Barry ( is an artist working in Baltimore.

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