February 20, 2009

Fronts and Sides

A shot gun house sat long and lanky on a street corner. The "shot gun" name was ostensibly derived from the theory that a bullet from a shot gun fired through the front door would travel the length of the house and exit out the back window. The house was painted a robin’s egg blue with a more delicate azure blue trim. This blue, I am told, is called "shoo devil blue." Before moving to South Carolina, I had never heard of a specific color on a house having apotropaic powers. Whatever effect the color was purported to have on the devil, it actually attracted me. I could not help but notice it glaring out from the landscape - a bar of turquoise set in an otherwise understated palette of earthly colors. From the front, its diminutive face looked like a playhouses Viewed from the side, the long form brought to mind the long greenhouses of my late uncle’s florist business or the chicken coups from my grandmother’s farm.
There are many such structures in South Carolina, perhaps built long and narrow on account of taxes being based on the area of the home facing the street. I have been painting them either straight on, so they look diminutive, or from the side so that they run the length of the canvas or panel. Lined up they are like house mug shots. There is something pleasingly archaic about frontal and side views. Side views recall ancient Egypt and the frontal look something of icons.
The three-quarter view in my "domicile" series is rare. Whether it is because I am plumbing the depths of ancient art or because I am too lazy to consider two-point perspective, I am not certain. I think it is for the stark clarity. Organizing forms along a flat plane abstracts them. I sometimes turn other objects near the architecture I am painting onto a frontal plane so that everything is organized like shapes in a Paul Klee painting. An example of this is the rusted fan in the courtyard of a painting I illustrated two to three postings ago. In the original photograph, the fan is turned to a three-quarter view. In the final painting it is frontal.
The two paintings illustrated at top and side are from Bamberg and Blackville, respectively. They are both painted on gesso panels. I will post more about the gesso panel technique tomorrow.

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