A watercolor painting featuring translucent, blood red shapes radiating out from the bottom left edge of the frame. the shapes are variously sized oblong ovals. The background is light grey. There are two red dots of paint on the left side of the painting, and two thin lines of splattered paint extend from the red composition.

Danielle Dimston: Lightness of Being

Municipal Bonds is pleased to present “Danielle Dimston: Lightness of Being,” a solo exhibition of select works on paper from 2008-2020. Dimston creates watercolors and drawings notable for a minimalist palette, linear composition, and transcendent field. Her work radiates emotional honesty through purity of the line—accessed by repetition, gradation, and undulation.

The fluidity of Dimston’s drawings, and the luminosity of her watercolors, shift perceptual awareness from structural to ethereal. Whether by arch, spiral, or triangle, the lines touch to connect, construct, mend. Some organically structured, others geometrically built—all are inclusively joined to the hand, the process, and the medium. With a meditative sense of space, unburdened by time or representation, Dimston’s abstractions emit lightness—at ease, an invitation to safe harbor met by psychological freedom.

Dimston offers, “This work continues my exploration of light as a compositional element. I have found light has an organic character and volume. And when it transitions, what happens to the edges? Of course, light also means color. But color can overwhelm and obscure. By keeping color to a minimum, I focus on its emotional weight, while eliminating almost all semblance of the objective world. The images, though abstract, evoke a sense of mystery, like a vague memory, or a dream.”


A watercolor painting of a ghostly white river winding through colorfully painted, angular rocks and trees.

Love Letter to Dr. Qinqin Liu

A watercolor painting of a ghostly white river winding through colorfully painted, angular rocks and trees.
Dr. Qinqin Liu, Untitled, 2009

My friends like making dark jokes about climate change: “Given that my hometown is currently on fire…” “In fifty years, when we’re all underwater…” “Love that natural sepia filter over the Bay…”

Cynicism about the climate crisis acts as a protective measure. If you assume the worst, you can’t be disappointed. When my mind shies away from anything but the most jaded outlooks, I turn to Dr. Qinqin Liu’s otherworldly paintings of California’s watersheds to remember what we have at stake.

Like me, Dr, Liu is an immigrant from Taiwan. We’ve had to learn to love California instead  of naturally inheriting the innate West Coast pride that born-and-raised Californians exude. Unlike me, she’s an environmental scientist with the California Department of Water Resources. While my climate anxiety stays confined to fretting and reading the news, she made it her life’s work. Liu’s paintings reveal an intimate knowledge of California’s precious rivers and coasts, and radiate an intense devotion built on years of study and respect.

In her “Ocean and Watershed” series, Liu’s delicate, layered watercolors make California freshwater glow, and articulates ghost-pale rivers with streaks of pink and purple. There’s a style of traditional Chinese painting called shan shui, or mountain and water, that calls upon the artist to paint not what they’ve seen in nature, but what nature has compelled them to think and feel. The ethereal shine of her rivers, painted with gentle, overlapping strokes contrasts the harsh lines and clashing colors of the landscape around them. Each painting conveys her respect for California’s most valuable resource, as well as her grief for how quickly the natural beauty of our chosen home could disappear.