Subject matter

underpainting, burnt umber acrylic on canvas, 8x10"

underpainting, burnt umber acrylic on canvas, 8x10"

This is a small painting I just started, the doorway of a building on West 11th Street, NYC. I just happened to be there when the sun was hitting the steps and creating great shadows of the railing and other architechtural details. It caught my eye, so I snapped a reference shot. All of my urban landscape work begins that way, random images that I happen upon in the city. I never set out with the expectation of painting a specific thing, I prefer to just see what’s out there that interests me visually.

Also, my work is not narrative in any way–perhaps this is why I am drawn more to random patterns of light, shadow and movement rather than to “scenes”. Although a lot of people refer to my paintings as “street scenes”, they really are not. To me, a scene is something that relies on the subject matter in a specific context in order to have relevance, in other words, the artist’s primary goal is to tell a story. My work is based purely on visual elements (form, value, color) placed in a balanced composition without any conscious effort to tell a story, yet viewers often describe my work as having an emotional element.

To me, the doorway is just a box that works well placed in the upper right of the composition–it could have been a window, a cardboard box or simply a rectangular shape. When I started working on this, the first thing I noticed was that the composition of these elements actually cuts the canvas into 4 almost equal rectangles, the angles of the shadows play across those rectangles and connects them while preventing the piece from becoming flat. At the same time, as I add subsequent layers of color, I know this piece will take on an atmospheric quality that will lend an air of something undefined and intangible that may hint at mystery, irony, or some other emotional quality that isn’t apparent at this stage–but that is something that will evolve on its own, not something I will attempt to create–the painting will tell its own story if it has one to tell, if you listen carefully, they often do.

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2 Responses to Subject matter

  1. Anne Stoeber says:

    Anne, I forgot to put my name on the list for your book. Of course I want one! Please add my name, I will bring check next Monday.

    Anne Stoeber

  2. kullaf says:

    thanks Anne! you are all set!

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