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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Life Is Rarely Black & White

Sometimes a painting starts out to say one thing and ends up telling a story of its own.  Such is the case with today's piece which I will call (unless you offer a better title) Immigration

While spending some time in Madrid I came to appreciate the trees planted along the busy city streets...as a land-lover, they reminded me of the woods and things I missed.  It occurred to me that the trees were not endemic to the city; they came to do a job.  Sort of like immigrants.  So the trees became symbolic of immigation to me and I set out to paint something of that nature: how the non-natives improved the city scene and so on, blah, blah. 

 
I wanted to keep it all very flat and non-realistic to focus attention on the trees which were collaged on in Spanish and Chinese type. 
 
 
alas!  I couldn't help myself, as the cityscape grew so did my yearning for detail and I seemed to get a little preoccupied with the fine lines of the buildings and walls behind the trees.  They are not realistic just graphic. It was then I began thinking, not so much about the immigrants, but of their children.  The kids are caught: they are not responsible for the decision to come to the United States (like these trees to the city), yet they have put down roots and made homes (like the trees have), and they have provided a contribution to our community (trees?) and surely would not survive if uprooted and moved...where? (trees?)

So suddenly I realized I was dealing, mentally and philosophically and thus artistically, with a totally different issue.  (And this is not a political commentary as I think this is a nation-issue, not one a specific candidate has the answer to). 


The city cross walk came into view, the side walks, the curb...none in black or white, rather tones of grey, as this is not a black and white issue: no easy answers here.  I wanted very much to keep the composition as clean and simple as I dared, focusing attention on the interesting design the trees provided (and, please note, the only bit of color as well).  But it just wasn't coming together.  The piece felt unbalanced and incomplete.  Yet as I thought more about the children I realized that if I were one of them, thinking of myself as an American but having no papers to prove it, I most likely would have a huge fear of an unknown future.  I would sense a shadow over my shoulder.



Thus I knew I needed a shadow. A shadow lurking across the street starting to cross over with no evidence of its purpose.  There is no way to tell if it is a friendly shadow or an unfriendly one.  The indication of "something" starting across the street balances the composition and rounds out the issue.  It begs the discussion of "what happens next."

Not all art is meant to hang over the couch.  Sometimes it is painted to stimulate a discussion, commenorate an event or document a culture.  I'm not sure I have achieved that higher purpose but I have found value in letting the issue and the painting run symbolically together. 

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