For the past two years, I've almost exclusively painted buildings and cityscapes. I love painting buildings because there is this incredible, ambiguous narrative that a building has-- they can say so much while still leaving so much up to the interpretation of the viewer. For my first two years as an art student, most of my assignments were assigned-- for example, I was given a nude model or still life and I was told to paint it. The theory of my department is as I see it that an artist should develop interests and subject matter in a natural, organic way-- you can't necessarily jump from beginning to mix paint straight towards becoming a great abstract painter, for example, it takes more time and effort and natural development. While I may have doubted this system while I was in the midst of painting a still life for the 5th time, I think that looking back I was able to develop my love of buildings as subject matter in a slow, natural, organic way.
During my Sophmore year, we were assigned to paint a series of landscapes outside during the fall. It was an amazing few weeks-- we would bundle up, grab our canvases and paints, and trek into the forrest. It was peaceful and challenging and sometimes downright frosty. My first painting featured all the rich, warm, lovely colors of fall. It was so picturesque that I kind of resented it. My roomates forced me to hang this painting in the hallway of our suite, by the entrance, but I try to avoid looking at it because I think it is too cliched.
By the time I began to paint my second landscape in this series, the leaves had begun to fall and turn gray. As the leaves fell, more and more of a building began to appear through the thinning trees. Without much concious thought, I added the building into the background of my painting:
In the end, this painting became much darker and I began to love this painting a lot more. I think a lot of that had to do with the joy I had while painting the light glowing from the windows:
While most people may not love this painting, I appreciate the way that the addition of the building made it less of a cliche. The painting became specific. It was about a certain place, a certain light, a certain experience. When I began to seriously paint buildings during my junior year, I always looked back to this painting as the start of this love affair.
Stay tuned for my next post-- a journey through my junior year of painting and a continuation of my love for all things concrete!