A simple accident contributed to the creation of David Hockney's Paper Pools series: the artist lost his driver's license just before moving from London to California. "In Los Angeles, you can't get around unless you can drive," Hockney later recalled, so he decided to extend a stopover in New York to visit his friend and lithographer Ken Tyler at his home and workshop in Bedford Village, New York, where he would wait for his replacement license. Tyler showed Hockney some works made with paper pulp, and Hockney became so intrigued with the artistic possibilities offered by the technique that he ended up staying with his friend for several months and collaborating with him on the Paper Pools series.
Unlike conventional printing on paper, the paper pulp technique produces a unique, one-of-a-kind image in which color is not applied to the surface but is part of the actual fabric of the paper itself. This produces colors that are far richer and more intense than could be achieved using conventional methods. The new medium had great effect on Hockney's artistic style, inspiring him to think in terms of color instead of line. "In using this paper pulp technique, you had to be bold. Here line meant nothing,it had to be mass, it had to be colour." (D. Hockney, That's the Way I See It, New York, 1993, p. 47).
Hockney initially painted sunflowers, but "the driver's license still hadn't arrived," so he decided to take Tyler's swimming pool as a new subject. "I kept looking at the swimming pool; and it's a wonderful subject, water, the light on the water It dawned on me that the swimming pool was a much more interesting subject. The point about water is you can look at it in so many different ways; it's always different." (Ibid, pp. 21 and 25).
Fig. 1 Hockney, Shadows in the Pool, 1978, Polaroid photograph c David Hockney 2001