Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Painting: 'House on De Brebeuf'

House on De Brebeuf, 2010 5.5 X 8" acrylic on illustration board

‘House on De Bebeuf’ took me through the bulk of our second Montreal winter. Three hundred and three hours spread over nine or ten weeks. The little house is the only one I photographed in our old unlamented neighbourhood. An anomalous one story building amongst the rickety exterior staircases of the taller duplexes and triplexes that typify the ‘Plateau’.

Winter was easier this year. Our first one in ‘Petite Italie’. The neighbourhood is less frantic than our last which was an uneasy mixture of older, low income renters and flat-screen-hdtv, stainless-steel-appliance-loving, nouveaux bourgeois. This is a strangely calm part of the city with a remarkable array of people from all social strata quietly going about their business. On the weekend when the car shops and meat packers are closed it’s positively sublime.

For the first time I managed to complete a time-lapse video project of the painting process. I knew I’d have to mount the tripod on my desk in order not to forget to take the photos. I averaged three shots a day. It’s easier to understand why the paintings take so long when the video appears to bog down as the brick areas are painted or when the intricate background railings are being sharpened.

I felt a great sense of relief when this painting was done. The video was an added burden that I tired of quickly but was determined to see through.

Something that would complete my bare-it-all painting process, aside from a 24/7 live video feed, would be little notations on my time sheets to explain why I missed several hours of one day or another day altogether. This would complete the picture of process-as-art. The days that I wanted to crawl into a cave and die are surely not irrelevant to the understanding of the work but this facet only exists if I share it.

I have a fundamental desire to leave a mark of my existence that will extend beyond whatever years I have left. Classic mortality complex. I grew up with a profound feeling of powerlessness and invisibility and have a need to leave some trace or proof of my having existed.

The paintings are seed being sown. The gallery, the blog, the videos, the web-site are the cultivation. The crop being harvested is me.