Monday, September 27, 2010

New Painting: 'Oriental(e)'

Oriental(e) 2010, 5.5 X 8" acrylic on illustration board.

Oriental(e) is a tofu manufacturer located a short block from our condo/studio. It has that beyond-its-best-before-date look. In our neighbourhood, that means a new condo will rise in place of a freshly razed building and the empty lot next door. The building is, in fact, for sale for less money than we paid for our condo. If not for the intimidating and expensive prospect of converting it to a studio, we’d be buying. Who doesn’t want a garage door entry to their studio? I’m assuming the mice would leave with the dearth of tofu manufacturing but maybe that’s a mistaken assumption on my part. The lot next door might be unavailable to developers as it’s ‘occupied’ by a mysterious person or persons in a tent. In over a year we have yet to figure out what goes on beyond the hoarding that hems in the property. We do indeed live in a curious neighbourhood.

The slide from which I painted ‘Oriental(e)’ was taken after the building’s ‘For Sale’ sign fortuitously blew off in a storm. I hadn’t managed a good photo of the building before the sign went up and I didn’t want a shot of the building with the sign. One of my rules is to use only one slide per painting. The only manipulation I allow to the photo is a subtle cropping to centre the image. I use a slide viewer through which I peer at the small section of the image on which I’m working. The completed image often comes as something of a surprise. Having concentrated for several months on such small parts of it, the whole of the image seems quite fresh to my eyes. I often have to rack my brain to remember which painting I’ve just completed.

‘Oriental(e)’ is a perfect illustration of the transitional building I find so appealing. A nondescript structure just at the edge of its usefulness in a changing neighbourhood. One day no one will remember it was there.

I’ve come to accept that transition is a good thing in ones life. I’m entering year eight in a period of transitions both major and minor in what, I’ve convinced myself, has otherwise been a relatively stable existence. As difficult as it can sometimes be, I think I’ve come to prefer transition’s anxiety, uncertainty and inherent feeling of ‘reality’ to the numbing illusions borne of a desire for stability.