Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Tobey Street Sunrise

Tobey Street Sunrise
18x24, acrylic on foam board

This was an experiment, a whole different style for me, starting with a red underpainting and then covering it with layer after layer of exaggerated color. I'm pleased with the results; I think the bright colors give it a dynamic, exciting feel.

I based this painting on a photo I took from my front steps one morning several years ago, just as the sun was coming up. We recently moved to a new house, in a neighborhood of 1960's and 1970's single-story ranches. I miss the old neighborhood, with its big old houses clustered so close together. Aesthetics aside (I find the newer houses bland and boring compared to the old relics), where I live now, there's a whole different dynamic. In-town, there was a warm feeling of family. Everyone knew everyone. Our kids grew up together, running in and out of each other's houses at all hours. When I looked out my kitchen window and into Dave and Barb's, I always got the feeling that no matter what happened, somebody would have my back. We took care of each other.

There's a sense of isolation where I live now. Spaces between neighbors are wide. We've been here for two years and still haven't met the people across the street. Many of the neighbors are elderly, and it feels as though I've moved into God's waiting room. I miss the old street, where the kids would play all day and half the night, and everybody knew everybody else's dog, cat, and mother-in-law. We carted each other's kids around, babysat each other's pets, held keys to each other's houses, and kept phone lists of each other's relatives to contact in case of emergency. We lived on a semi-dead-end street, so we knew which cars belonged on the street, which belonged to visitors, and which were from "away." My new house is located a tenth of a mile from a Barnes & Noble superstore, and a half-mile from Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Circuit City. As a result, 8,600 cars pass by each day. Eighty. Six. Hundred. Dozens of strangers walk by daily on their way to the shopping center. And the anonymity of it all bothers me. All I did was move across town, yet it's like being on another planet. Yes, the deer play in our backyard; but out front, the world races by at 20 mph over the posted speed limit.

This painting is my nostalgic attempt to reclaim some of the family feeling I left behind when we moved from Prospect Street.

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