Thursday, January 28, 2010

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” —Claude Monet

It seems like FOREVER that I am in start up on the latest painting in the Lower Haight series, the bathroom at Toronado. I really thought that this was going to be an easy, fun painting. I laid in the initial color and composition and then got stuck. I guess this is similar to what they call writers block.

I suddenly did not know where I was going. My normal way of painting is to get the under colors in and then start bringing up the actual paint. In this case I found that the under color or lay in worked. Not a usual experience, and luckily I had mixed a huge amount of that color (which now lives in the studio refrigerator… it’s like gold).

Unlike oils that you can walk away from and come back to on your palette the next day, acrylic is fast drying. If you want to keep the acrylic colors that you have mixed you can cover in plastic wrap and either store in the fridge or freezer. Just remember to let it warm back up when you bring it out again – the original consistency and color will be usable as if just mixed.

What is a palette? Well, any surface that the artist uses to mix the colors on/ transfer paint from. Many artists working in oils use an old windowpane, for acrylic I use plastic (the same one I have been using for, well more years that I care to say – college days – so I guess I am being “green”?). Wood can also be used, but it tends to not be slick and soaks in the color.

On a sentimental note, I keep my Dad’s wood palette in my studio with me… I love looking at the paint stains that he made in the 1950’s when he was working in oil doing abstracts.

Back to the painting. Today I decided that opera just wasn’t going to get me moving on the colors, so I switched to some “lets get danc’n rock”. It helped. I dug in, said to myself “forget about it, just paint… color color color!” I love it when color starts to happen, what a rush!

Color is not always obvious. Take a moment. Look around. It’s there. It can be subtle. It can be beautiful in the most unexpected places.

In the sky, on the ground, beautiful patterns and wonderful surprises are right there, waiting.

When my friend Sara shared her iPhone photos of our neighborhood (intersection of Haight and Fillmore) I was taken by the beauty of the MUNI wires. How could I pass this everyday on the way to the Studio and have missed it?

Wires are starting to disappear in our cityscape, “they say” it’s beautification, well, perhaps, but while they are still here, do not miss the urban beauty… someday soon this will be a nostalgic memory of a century past.

Here is another photo that I took of one of the few remaining above ground telephone poles in the Lower Haight.

Many artists are doing wonderful paintings that are inclusive of wires and poles. I look at these and simply go “wow”. Our urban landscape displays a natural color palette.

I did a small painting in 2009 of the Roxy Theater on 16th Street - just a fun, abstract interpretation of color. I did not think about the wires when I started it and as I was laying in the painting I realized they were so part of the view.

We also have amazing views looking down, the streets, the mundane that we pass over; there are wonderful patterns, like magnificent abstracts in steel and concrete.

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