Eleven Watercolors

Have you ever been overcome by the swirling colors and shapes in nature? In this state, everything seems alive, vibrating, lush, and real and unreal at the same time. Patricia Forrester has captured this experience in her magnificent watercolors over the past four decades. For this, we at Persimmon Tree honor her by showing eleven images of her recent work below. We wish to thank the Braunstein/Quay Gallery in San Francisco, and especially Ruth Braunstein and Shannon Trimble, for helping us put this selection together.

Patricia Forrester is known as a “plein air” (open air) painter, meaning that she works directly in nature, not in a studio. She usually sits on the ground with a large sheet of paper before her—partly on her lap and partly propped on the ground or a cardboard box. By painting directly onto paper, without any preliminary drawings or photographs, she brings a great vitality and immediacy to her work.

She states that “the subject of my work is always growth: how trees and plants bulge and stretch and open.” Her paintings are a direct response to nature—but they are not an imitation. Sometimes she brings images from other natural settings into her paintings, for example tropical blossoms into a wintery scene. This gives her work a feeling of unreality, as though she’s seeing things we ordinarily don’t see and making connections we don’t make.

In painting the world as she experiences it, Forrester’s work is infused with her memories and reflections. The choices she makes in the setting of each watercolor reflect her sensibilities. Because of this, her paintings have a visionary quality, much like Georgia O’Keefe and Vincent van Gogh.

Bennington Birches, (Diptych), 1994
Watercolor; 60 x 80 inches

Pink Bananas, 2001
Watercolor; 40 x 24 inches

Ausable, 1999
Watercolor; 40 x 60 inches

Late Summer Garden, 2002
Watercolor; 41 x 26 inches

Lock, Mirrored, 2001
Watercolor; 40 x 60 inches

Magnolias Abandoned, 2004
Watercolor, 42 x 30 inches

Carneros, 1993-2010
Watercolor; 40 x 43 inches

Fragmented Roses, 2001
Watercolor; 26 x 19 inches

Copake, 2006
Watercolor; 40 x 60 inches

Hillwood Tulips, 1997-2000
Watercolor; 26 x 41 inches

Cliffs and Callas, 2008
Watercolor; 60 x 40 inches


Patricia Tobacco Forrester’s work has been shown widely in hundreds of museums and galleries across the U.S. and abroad for over 35 years. Numerous major museums own her paintings and prints, including the Art Institute of Chicago, the British Museum (London), the Brooklyn Museum, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Yale University Art Gallery, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, where she lives.

One Comment

  1. Eleven Watercolors

    Patricia Tobacco Forrester
    What a nice write up and lovely watercolor paintings. Patricia could teach me a thing or two. I wish I was as relaxed when I sit down to paint. I like her attitude, love her colors, love how she describes her motivation:
    how trees and plants bulge and stretch and open.” Her paintings are a direct response to nature—but they are not an imitation.
    Would love to sit down with her and watch her paint.
    Will pass this on to other friends of mine, who live in Maine, and love to paint!

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