Ava Jarvis Art
Ink and Watercolor Artist

Work Archives

Archives for Ava Jarvis' artworks, with additional information about the creation process and what inspired each piece.

Four Cups and Banana (2017)

Watercolor and gouache impasto on 140lb (300gsm) cold press
Date: October 18, 2017

Impasto in watercolors is something I'm experimenting with. The way one approaches impasto in oils is quite different from impasto in watercolors, as watercolors are typically translucent. This means that achieving color complexity of brush strokes can be done by doing impasto glazing (both with impasto and with "normal" watercolor). 

Ava Jarvisfine art
Ibis Arabesque (2017)

Date: August 18, 2017
Size: 7in x 5in
Watercolor crayon on coldpress.

The graceful curves of members of the egret family (such as red ibises on the riverbanks) inspired this piece of moving lines. I wanted to capture what looking at a red ibis inspires within me and, I feel, within others as well.

Duck Gourd III (2017)

Date: August 2, 2017
Size: 3in x 5in
Watercolor, gouache, ink on coldpress.

Friends of mine showed me an interesting gourd they'd found in a co-op market—an example of a goose-necked gourd, which is an actual type of gourd. They really do resemble goose—but in this case of a more short-necked one than usual, it reminded me of a duck. The central gourd here is indeed what became known to me as "the" Duck Gourd, which I keep incorporating into various works. This time I added a small family for Duck Gourd as well.

Ava Jarviswatercolor, fine art
Palette Cleanser (2017)

Date: July 23, 2017
Size: 8in x 5in
Watercolor and ink on coldpress.

I adore still life works, and their focus on smaller subject groupings like fruit or paperweights creates a larger-than-life feel for objects taken for granted in everyday life.

This feeling reminds me of Chinese landscapes—because the mountains and valleys really are far more dramatic than a most modern audiences expect. Those little figures dwarfed by waterfalls and forests in so many paintings and scroll works really are true to scale.

So I decided to combine the two—adding tiny ink figures to my still lifes in the scale of Chinese landscape works. And I suspect these days many of us miss the dreams of safety and food security, which my fruit still lifes nowadays evokes with these tiny fisherfolk and farmers eking out a living in a cornucopia landscape.

Jizō and Butterfly (July 2017)
jizo rescan adjusted cropped 1200.jpg

Date: July 2017
Watercolor pencils in pocket-sized Pentalic Art Aqua Journal.

A Jizo in watercolor pencils. I did this much earlier this month, but I decided it was a birthday present to me. Jizō protects children, and this particular piece of art has a deep and personal meaning to me as a survivor of trauma and abuse.

Self Portrait (June 2017)

Watercolor on coldpress.
Date: June 20, 2017
Size: 7in x 4in

A little self portrait in watercolors. I have facial aphasia—I can't recognize faces, not even my own. This doesn't stop me from painting faces accurately, it just means that I need to label all portraits I ever do because I can't reliably match clients to their painted faces.

I can tell the difference between portraits, though. I know this picture is me in a way that I cannot tell, at first glance, that my image in the mirror is me. (And yes, mirrors can easily spook me.)

That may or may not be interesting to some researcher.

Gods of Sweets (June 2017)

Watercolor and ink on hotpress.
Date: June 18, 2017
Size: 3.5in x 2.5in

A birthday present ACEO for my best friend. Tajimamori is the Japanese Shinto god of fruits and sweets, and Ganesha is the Hindu Deva of Wisdom and breaking down barriers—who also loves sweets.

I created an adorable ink drawing of the two and painted them in bright colors—the style is close to Vietnamese Đông Hồ paintings—inked outlines with a traditional six-color scheme and flat colors, but I broke with tradition and added snowy mountain tops and subtle tints and shading for Ganesha's clothing and Tajimamori's skin. 

Protection from Fate's Seas I (2017)

Watercolor pencils on coldpress.
Date: April 30, 2017
Size: 6in x 4.25in

A value study of an ocean shore. The waves wash up against the rocks constantly, but a storm is approaching. The starfish in is tidal pool is cradled in the safety of the shore rocks for now—and hopefully it will remain safe under the guard of the rocky shoreline, no matter what waves wash in.

I felt this was the kind of piece and message needed in 2017.

Needle and Mountain (2017)

Watercolor, ink, and gouache on 140lb cold press.
Date: April 17, 2017
Size: 7.5in x 4.75in

I used to take the Bainbridge Island to Seattle ferry on a daily commute for nearly 11 years. The workday was long; I'd wake up at 6am and get home around 8pm, too exhausted to eat.

Life in Seattle was somewhat terrible, all things considered, but the night views from my car as Seattle disappeared into the distance were enchanting.

We should never forget the mountains that range in the distance. They are enormous and grounding, like silent gods.  

Four Cups and Fish (2017)

Watercolor on coldpress paper.
Date: April 16, 2017
Size: 11in x 8in

This painting started as a monochromatic, naturalistic/realistic study of four mugs on a light tan cutting board against a white background. 

I added color to the mugs instead, made the cutting board more interesting, and altered the background. I couldn't help adding fish since the first layers of the cutting board looked like an empty koi pool. 

I'm extremely pleased with this piece. 


Towards the Light (2017)

Watercolor on cold press paper.
Size: 9in x 6in
Date: April 6th, 2017

I painted this thinking of a cave—I've spent much of my life clambering out of an unfortunate childhood. But here I'm finally near the end of the journey towards the light. The deepness of the cave is ending in translucent gemstone walls, filtering light from the golden sun outside, very visible in the near distance. The light of the sun is warm and inviting. Even so, the darkness of this part of the cave isn't an inescapable blackness, but a deep amethyst. The viewer is reaching the end of one journey—and wandering into the next.

This is my first abstract painting. Abstracts compress much more meaning than non-abstract works—leaving behind the stricter rules of representation allows more room for emotion and thought to spread across the page. Pure meaning becomes the rule, rather than representation.

Abstracts are so raw and yet so refined. They always surprise me.

Daffodils from the Storm (2017)

Watercolor and ink on coldpress.
Size: 5in x 3.25in
Date: March 25, 2017

Daffodils rescued and brought inside after an early spring storm. They may seem dulled, beaten, but their inner fire can still bloom and light the way in the darkness.

I often combine flowers and fire symbology—normally an unlikely pairing that signifies destruction, but to me flowers are what come after a hard winter (or, in some cases, during winter). Fire can destroy, but it, too, is associated with rebirth, like phoenixes. 

So when I combine flowers and fire, I'm talking about fire forging a rebirth. Not just that, but using that inner fire formerly used to destroy as a force for creation and opening layers of beauty to the world. 

Trauma survivor is just written all over my art, isn't it?

Fruit and Fuji-San (2017)

Watercolor and ink on vellum paper.
Size: 8.5in x 5.5in

Date: March 23, 2017

For me, Fruit and Fuji-San is an iconic example of my work. The colors are expressionistic in nature, in my case emphasizing some part of reality I find interesting—in this case, the contrast and coloration of the fruit.

The shading and perspective in much of my work is Cézanne-like, because I love the way he worked with color. Behind is an illusion of Mt. Fuji (or Fuji-san). It looks like just a piece of scenery, but is it? There are hints that all isn't what it seems—which is the bit of Escher DNA that exists in my artwork.

This piece originated the previous year, when I wanted to a final work of art in the last days of 2016 and decided that a Mt. Fuji picture would be great after going through Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by Hokusai. I only had an ink brush pen at the time—color would have to come later. And boy, did color come in later. 

Yunnan Grannies (2017)

Watercolor and ink on cold press paper.
Size: 14.5in x 5in
Date: March 6, 2017

The strength of wonderful grannies across the world always impresses me. Wrinkled faces, time-worn, are beautiful to me—sometimes sad, but always indicative of a life well-lived. Yunnan has a saying—"In Yunnan, Grannies climb mountains faster than monkeys." I think this isn't unique to Yunnan. 

I never knew my grandmothers. Perhaps they weren't the greatest people, perhaps they were—war tears a family apart in so many ways. I wanted to pay a tribute to them regardless—to them, and to all the grannies out there. 

Vegetable Still Life (February 2017)

Watercolor pencils on coldpress.
Date: February 2017
Size: 7.5in x 5in

An initial experiment with watercolor pencils. I adore still lifes, especially involving fruit and vegetables. Fruit especially is associated with fortune and luck in Vietnam and many neighboring countries, and healthy-looking vegetables are always a sign of plenty. Fruit and vegetables are the more solid counterpart of flowers, solid and weighty as opposed to airy and delicate.

Bats and Dawn (2017)

Watercolor and ink on coldpress.
Size: 5in x 5in
Date: February 25, 2017

I suffer from complex PTSD, a scar of many years of childhood and young adult trauma. I write poetry about it sometimes, and one early morning, after vivid nightmares, I wanted to draw something hopeful. Hopeful and ethereal, the banishing of dreams to a dawn mist as the world wakes up and reality reasserts itself in the wake of dreams.

Pineapple Dawn (2017)

Watercolor and ink on coldpress.
Size: 8in x 5in
Date: February 24, 2017

Dawn just isn't the same without a pineapple. I did this such a long time ago in ink when I was just learning the craft, based on a public domain image freely given by the Pineapple Supply Co. who apparently specialize in gorgeous HD photographs of pineapples in scenery and arrangements. Check them out—they apparently also do web design.

It Calls Me (2017)

Ink on cold press.
Size: 5in x 5in
Date: February 23, 2017

The recent movie (at the time of this piece) from Disney, Moana, inspired me to draw upon memories of ferry rides from Seattle to Bainbridge Island over a decade. The little sailboats I especially loved to watch as they made their way across the waters—and I like to imagine that dawn and the open waters calls to their sailors at times.

Ava Jarvisfine art, ink, expressionism
Fruit and Wine (2017)

Watercolor and ink on cold press.
Size: 4.5in x 2.75in
Date: February 18, 2017

These fruits were quite colorful in real life, but I wanted to take them beyond reality, into an expressive world of vibrant colors and dream-like shapes. Going beyond reality in my art is a passion of mine—delivering visions that re-interpret the world around us into glowing images.