These settings which pass my view at 35 to 40 miles an hours go by in 5-7 seconds on the train, yet they grab me more that the new urban graffiti murals that are filling up the walls of the homes and buildings along Market Street in the past few years, like an ivy that is spreading from house to house.
When I saw this scene as the train slowed into the station, I knew I had to paint it, to try and capture it as a distinct location, as distinct as the face of a sleeping relative. This painting depicts a snow covered field at Market and 48th street along the Market/Frankford El line just after the storm clouds move off to the east. I have painted this spot before, in late summer, but its character in winter was just as enticing a subject. There is something magically alluring to me about these open, abandoned and melancholy plots of land.
The parking lot with its cracked and patchwork fixes, an overgrown field like an unkempt head of hair, spaces between places, or links between houses and streets demand more of me to paint than a Brandywine field. These spaces are as powerful as any beautiful bucolic landscape to me, the way they push back the houses or cut between them in odd shapes or spots. Under the pristine snow, the crystal clean frosting, are a few bones and tufts left that poke through like a skeletal remain of a previous inhabitant. What was the story here? Like an old grave site in a way of some other time, it races me back to my old neighborhood in Detroit which fell into the blight of urban decay from the riots of the 60’s. This field reminds me of the big open field across the street from my old home, and along the back of that field was a train track, about the same distance away as the row of houses in this painting, so in a way this painting is like a mirror image reflecting from my present to my past.
I’m hearing an old song playing on a new radio, the beat is a poetic sense of space and light, my challenge is to try and play along, get this riff down in paint as fast as I can to keep the feeling fresh and alive. I want to paint the smell of the air, the feel of light in pigment. How can I do that? I don’t know, it seems impossible, but I must try and there is no exact formula, so I just paint until I can smell it and taste it. Most of the paintings I do like this one are done in one session, a ''premier- coup,” keeping only the essential details needed to create the mood and poetic space I want to capture.
So this I think gives you an idea of what I am going for now and trying to lay stake to in these recent paintings.
We have graduation rehearsal on Monday and I'll be cleaning out the last of the Star Wars work so I can really finish my thesis and have a few weeks of really just painting away for my ASE Wall.