Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Entrance to Lowe's

Here's the completed painting of the one I described in a previous post. I had started it in November, but had to stop because of the weather and changing light. I had worked on it awhile in the studio from some photographs I had taken, but was unhappy with the way it was progressing. The colors in the photos were bleached out and lacked any depth and detail, so I threw them out. I had it in my studio all winter, in the corner on a easel, patiently waiting there while I worked on other paintings.

The weather began getting warmer recently, so I decided to re-engage with the painting and took it outside again. The scene depicts the entrance to the Lowe's parking lot on 9th street, where I park my car when I go to the studio. I pass by these buildings all the time and was captivated by the way the forms in front of me stood out against the clear blue sky. The looming streetlight towering above, in front of a jagged roof-line of triangles and an old chimney. Overhead is the elevated F and G train line, as it passes over the Gowanus Canal for 2 stops, beautifully draped in black mesh to keep the cement from crumbling off. I included the supporting posts on the left and right sides of the painting, hinting at the structure overhead, but out of sight. This Spring and Summer, I plan to do a series of paintings depicting this elevated track from different angles; the slow, gradual, black bulge of the tracks as it rises above the ground and through this space.

The painting was actually done in a high traffic area, something I don't usually like doing. People were constantly passing by, to and from Lowe's, usually wanting to ask me questions or talk; all cordial and respectful though. I had a few nice conversations with people, from construction workers to junkies, just amazed that someone was out there doing a painting of this wasteland they see everyday. It's intriguing for me to have my work seen by an audience that usually doesn't have any contact with Art; it allows people to re-evaluate what beauty and meaning is, and my hope is that they see their surroundings as something that can inspire. But what I'm out there to do is to paint, and small talk usually just gets in the way. And, whenever I hear someone ask me if I "know that painter-guy on TV with the Afro", I feel like jumping in the canal.

When I returned to this spot after 5 months, the light had obviously completely changed. I was prepared for this, and decided that I liked the composition I had set in place enough to just re-work the light and color. The shadow areas had changed from a blue-violet, to a warmer gray and the face of the buildings had a richer, brown-orange hue, due to the light hitting it more directly, rather than raking across. To my surprise, a small elevated barricade had been erected directly across from me, along the face of the building in the center of the composition. This was just what the painting needed, not only because it gave the painting more depth, but the green coloring provided a compliment to the red-orange of the building's facade. Also, the support poles stood out as bright cobalt lines against the shadows behind it. Another one of those surprises that happen only through sustained looking and working before the motif; the subject giving you something more that the painting needs.

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