Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The Backyard (in progress)
So I've got a few paintings going this summer: the elevated F/G train, a small interior painting of our bedroom, and this one of our backyard. I'm thinking of starting a large studio/self-portrait painting too, which would give me another option to paint if the weather isn't good. Spring's a tough time to paint...the weather's unpredictable (alot of rain) but the colors are so crisp and vibrant, especially the green leaves that have just burst forth. Over the past year, I've done a number of paintings of our house. One reason, is that I know this space so intimately, having renovated and lived in it for 6 years now. Another, is that we will be moving eventually, and I feel that by doing these paintings it is offering me documentation and closure on such an important part of my life.
Most of these paintings are pictures of ordinary moments; the plant in the corner of the kitchen, the parlor after the kids have gone to bed, my wife lying in our bed before sleep, the backyard as I glanced up to look at the deck. They represent a quietness and introspection that develops with a space over time. I also enjoy investigating these small enclosures of space, rather than landscapes with a seemingly infinite horizon or canopy of sky.
The backyard painting is almost square (24" x 23"), which is not a size I normally work in. I like the centrality of the composition: straight, dead-on, looking at the back of our house with an elevated deck. The pathway to the stairs is flanked by a profusion of greenery, which was lovingly planted and tended to by my wife. After 6 years, it has flourished with an unbelievable lushness and density, and it's hard to believe that it was all concrete when we moved in. When I first started the painting, I loved the way the light bleached out the back wall bright white in the afternoon sun, but found the light coming through the trees difficult to paint. On an overcast day, I can see the forms better; I've yet to reconcile which light I want to paint it in. The hydrangeas will be blooming soon, so I definitely want to add those colors (violet, blue) as well. Our backyard gets so overrun with mosquitoes by mid-summer, that I'm nervous it's going to be unbearable to work back there soon. It's been such a peaceful place to paint, a small oasis of greenery in this city of stone and metal. I enjoy the squirrels scurrying around on the trees overhead, the birds chirping and hearing the church bells ring on the hour. There are times when I just dissolve into the present moment; that what my hand/eye/mind are doing blends perfectly and there is just the pure experience of seeing.