I have spent many hours, over many years, closely observing and meditating on the structures that surround my summer home. I have become fascinated by their geometry and the additional shapes created by cast shadows that change and turn depending on my vantage point and the sun’s position. The outward shapes change, yet I know the underlying structure remains the same.
As I repeatedly draw and redraw these same structures, I seek out the subtle relationships between shapes. Sometimes I see new shapes and I am amazed that I never noticed them before. The lines that bound the shapes will shift depending on my point of view, but the fact that they always lie connected on the same plane ensures their innate relationship: a triangle remains a triangle even when I can’t see it. There is something about this “truth” that makes me hopeful.
Sometimes I draw these shapes that I know are there but cannot see, and then adjust them and leave the trace of my thought process behind as I move and shift in and out of the space of the canvas. I am always searching to discover something previously unseen or un-thought of. I somehow find it reconfirming when I do. “Ahh, yes” I think.
The paintings develop slowly over time and many changes are made along the way. Often, I sit back and ponder them hanging on my studio wall and I contemplate the shape and color relationships developing in the painting, similar to the way I previously studied them on the actual house. I am not trying to replicate exactly what it looked like but more of what it felt like to look at them. Now and then I need to reconnect with that feeling. I continue adjusting until I achieve the color harmony and a balance of shape and space and the painting evokes in me a sense of feeling grounded and centered and connected to something eternal. When I recognize that, it is finished.
Model of the Light Keeper’s house on Sandy Neck, ½” = 1’
I am sitting here in the small kitchen of my cottage looking at this model, pondering what compelled me to construct it. I continue to gaze at it and then I begin to contemplate the light as it falls across the varied geometric planes. It is mesmerizing and I am filled with a sense of being centered and at peace.
I have stood outside and drawn the actual house as it stands in reality many times. I am usually swatting flies, battling wind, and seeking shade. Yet it was not until I built his model that I felt I truly began to “know” this house. I now know the true actual shape of each plane because I have held each separate piece in my hand.
Even though perceptually these shapes are always changing depending on the angle of my gaze, there is something about the knowledge of each true shape that allows me to abstract more freely.
There is nothing immediate about my painting process and I am not interested with capturing some fleeting impression. I am more interested in searching for what endures in spite of change. Yet I value direct observation and working from life. I can now sit and observe shadow patterns and explore shape relationships on the model that I could never see before.