I imagined you... a new painting in stages

The other week I promised I would share my most recent finished canvas painting and photos of it in progress. This is one of several canvases in which I've been working this year. They haven't been fast. In fact, I'm quite slow, or feel that I am slow. I tend to work over and over a piece, changing it sometimes to a point that its beginnings are barely recognizable. Why do I do this? I have often asked myself. Why can't I just start with a plan, a drawing or sketch, and paint it? Maybe because that would just be too "easy" and I enjoy process too much. Though, after working on this canvas a bit, (actually, I started it last year, then left it) I decided to use part of a sketchbook page as a point of re-entry. And I have liked this approach. It gives me a bit of direction while leaving lots of room for discovery and process to figure out. The media is different, the scale, the issues, and so its still its own painting, apart from the sketch. A goal of mine has been to translate the energy of my sketchbook to larger paintings. I've always found artist's sketches to be full of a vitality that sometimes seems glossed over or buried in the final work. I want to maintain that rawness, so to speak. 

So these photos show it not from the very start, but with layers atop what I had painted last year. The process is always about understanding relationships, isn't it? When you add something it effects everything else. So it becomes like a see-saw. And it's a conversation in your head. Lay color in, draw, add lines, cover up, this needs to be darker here, blur edges, define edges, add detail, make marks, we need a shape here, take something out, unify, etc. until you finally say, I think that it's done. It says what I want it to say. It feels the way I want it to feel. It takes me someplace in my thoughts.


I imagined you... oil on canvas, 24 in. x 36 in.

And the last image shows the final stage of the painting. It is finished! Though I'm still working out the title, the abbreviated version is, I imagined you... The long version is like a small story. 

Thanks for looking at my new work! I'm getting close to completing two more. Fingers crossed!


Along the way to the tulip tree

Forsythia in our yard.

The old Delahunty place on Rhode Island St. Rhody Delahunty, an Irishman, built the house on the property in 1871 and set up a "dray wagon" business. More recently this lot was known as the "Packard graveyard" and has been uninhabited for years. (More info in the newspaper.)

The massive tree in the playground of our neighborhood school. Langston Hughes attended grades four through six at this school.

Tiny dogs peering through shiny drapes. 

Lanterns at the house across the street from where Pete was watering the garden when I walked by.

At the house across the street from where I lived before we were married. A middle-aged gentleman used to live there who did landscaping up on campus. He had the coolest folk art sculptures in his yard and drove a Chinook with a wooden camper.

And the tulip tree.

Each spring I look forward to the blooming of this tree. It stands in the corner of a yard a few blocks from us. It starts out grey and fuzzy then I'm always surprised when it bursts forth in color. This year I almost missed it. I was driving home from the grocery store a week ago and gasped when I saw it was full. Now the blooms are already starting to curl and get that tea stained tone.

And I found this. In 2011 I photographed it in film.

An interesting idea and article on NPR's Morning Edition, to wax poetic about your favorite block. Do you have one?