New work: May December

24ʺ ✕ 36ʺ – Acrylic, inkjet, and mixed media on canvas mounted on wood panel

This painting began with a snapshot of the sidewalk taken last November. I was walking the poodle down the block and around the corner to head to our local park, and the sidewalk and street was littered with fallen leaves. My poodle is very patient as I lean over to get a perfectly horizontal photo of the ground without my feet.

I like the original photo a lot. It makes a very nice iPhone wallpaper.

Once I had this printed and laminated to a 2’ x 3’ panel - I really didn’t want to paint on it. I’ve been leaving a 1” white (unprinted) border on these images to help with alignment problems and to visually emphasize their photographic source material. This, combined with the leafy texture, made my laminated panel look like perfect hotel art.

I sat with the panel for a bit and decided that I should lean into that emotional reaction. I decided to do the opposite of leaving the leaves alone (ha) - I decided to cover them with bricks.

In-progress photo of a painting of bricks.

The internet told me that many bricks are 2 ¾” by 8” - I decided to fix that by making it an even 3” by 8” - Fibonacci numbers make satisfying bricks.

The bricks worked against the leaves nicely. I liked the contrast of the real, natural, photographed leaves and the artificial, hand-painted bricks. Next, I felt like I should add something else ephemeral to relate to the leaves and contrast the bricks. I thought of avocados, first as a joke. “You millennials and your toast”. But I liked the combo more and more. I contrived of a way to sort of build an avocado half from circles, based again on Fibonacci ratios. A circle with a radius of 8 created the body, a circle of radius 5 created the pit, and another circle of radius 5 created the stem-end of the fruit. Connected together with tangent lines, the circles made very satisfying avocado shapes. I painted these in grey to nail down the colors.

Preliminary painting of halved avocado

Staring at these bricks reminded me of the famous gum-wall in Seattle’s Post Alley. So I stuck (painted) some trompe l’oeil pink bubblegum onto the corner of one brick.

As I painted the two avocado halves I sort of accidentally made one darker, more green. This was really just an error on my part. I misjudged the colors from my reference photo.

But I liked it. These two halves should go together, but they don’t match. Instead of fixing my colors, I made the darker avocado look more aged, closer to spoiling.

Incomplete painting of avocados

I added dark spots, and accentuated the sense of decay. With the second avocado half bright green and crisp, I realized that had painted a metaphor.

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