I paint what I see every day. The people, landscapes, cities and towns around me.
There is a saying in Zen that there is no past, no future, only the here and now. When painting, forget about the concepts of what you are seeing and only see the shapes, lines, colors and values in front of you.
I prefer watercolors. You will fail to capture the moment if you try too hard to control the outcome. Let the paint, water and paper do what they will. That is the pleasure of watercolors—the surprises they create on their own.
I started out with landscapes but more recently have gravitated towards figurative art. I find that they are more powerful and direct for addressing pressing political and social issues important to me: immigration, my Japanese American heritage, racial discrimination , and economic disparities.
My hope is that the viewer will get a glimpse of what I saw and experienced. And learn to see the world around them, mindfully in a new way.
Joe Aki Ouye