Thursday, September 23, 2010

Elevated F/G train (finished)

   As I was writing the title of this post, I hesitated about what to call it. What's this painting of? What's it about? It's of the train track...but it's also about a tree planted in asphalt, the expanse of a parking lot, a shadow, a grid of parking spaces. It's mostly about a record of returning to a particular spot over a long period of time (about 4 months), and trying to translate what I'm seeing, in paint.
   I stopped working on this one for a few months in July and August because of a job, and then vacation, and when I returned, I noticed that they had redone the asphalt of the parking lot while I was away. The color darkened about 3 or 4 shades and completely altered the scene. Also, somebody had graffitied the large black expanse on the face of the elevated tracks. When stuff like this happens, the dialog between what's happening on the canvas and what's happening in front of me intensifies.  There are times when what I'm seeing forces the painting to change direction or to be altered in some way, usually at an unexpected but well needed time in the painting's progression.  When I returned to work on it, I also realized that I was trying to include too much. I chopped off a considerable amount of inches from all sides of the painting; cropping it in, making the compostion tighter and denser. Check out the before version here.
   Even though I was tucked away in a corner of the parking lot (Lowe's), I still had passers-by who would stop and look at what I was doing. Some of the Lowe's employees would come over on their break to sit on the benches and smoke and have coffee. I would be there painting, over-hearing their conversations, almost invisible to them. I think most of the people thought I was crazy, seeing me there day after day trying to paint a picture of a parking lot. Some people would stop by and chat, and a few would check in from time to time to see the progress. About 11am, I would smell fried chicken coming from the Food Town behind me, gradually mingling with the putrid stench from the canal.

    This is a new painting of the scene that was behind me while I painted the first one. It's a spot where I would walk back and view the painting from afar. I'd stand by the railing up against the canal and survey the water. I figure what's behind me is just as important as what's in front of me.  I did it over a few days, trying to return when that shadow was at exactly the same spot. I painted over top of another painting, which gives it some distracting texture that I'm not happy about (I'll have to remember to stop doing that), but I think I captured the nastiness of the canal. There's a lot happening in the canal besides garbage and toxic waste, though. I've seen small fish, crabs...even a large horseshoe crab. Nature's resilience never ceases to amaze me.

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