Saturday, March 16, 2013

At First Glance #5

5" x 7" ink and watercolor on Fabriano Artistico rough paper
(Click to view a larger image)

I love bus stops and cross walks because of the variety of people you find there.  But it's rare that I am lucky enough to have the traffic light stop my car just to the side of a person to paint.  So when I saw the woman above I just kinda casually stared straight ahead while waiting at the light, held my cell phone sideways, and -snap- I had the picture.  I never looked that way once and when the light turned green I drove on.  When I checked the photo later I was delighted!

This is my fifth "At First Glance" picture, a series where I try to capture the essence of folks I find in Miami. 

But I've been thinking, maybe what I'm portraying is something more.

The other day I met a friend for lunch that I hadn't seen in maybe ten years.  (This is a different friend, by the way, than the one recounted in the last post.)  I had no idea it had been so long.  I'd spoken to him every year in the interim - he's my accountant.  We'd have lively telephone conversations, catching up, and he'd sounded exactly the same.  But I'd mail him the papers for my return and wouldn't see him. 

So when we saw one another there was this surreal minute or two as we conversed when we were reconciling our memories of one another to the persons before us. Time had given us both more .. character.

So I realize that what I'm capturing in this series is not only the essence, but the moment.

The "At First Glance"figures are in a field of white.  I could ground the figures in the white field, say with a shadow.  But I do not.  This is appropriate, I think.  This is their essence suspended in the moment; then the moment is gone.


If you'd like descriptions of the series and to see prior "At First Glance" folks, you can go here, here, here and here.  [What will I do when there are 100?  Leave 99 links at the end of the post?!  I think not!]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

After All These Years

Watercolor on 14" x 11-3/4" Daler-Rowney Langton Prestige NOT paper
"Life As a River"  (Click to enlarge)

Here's a tale:  Burger Chef was a chain that pre-dated the biggies, Burger King and McDonalds.  At our local Burger Chef, on A-1-A in the city of Satellite Beach on the Space Coast of Florida, the manager Bill M. didn't really know how to control the place.  The assistant manager would be running to the grocery store once or twice a week to buy something he forgot to order, like hamburger buns or meat, for example.  And the place wasn't doing well.

When McDonald's finally came to our small town, it stood only a block away from Burger Chef.  That was when Bill M. decided that it would be a good idea to buy the Burger Chef and turn it into his own place.  Now if Burger Chef wasn't doing well then, let me tell you, Bill's Big Burger wasn't going to do any better.  It failed within months.

But while Burger Chef and then Bill's Big Burger existed, my best friend Jeff and I worked there in high school.  Great fun.  We were good kids, but had our moments.  Once we showed up together drunk and sang "Cheeseburger in Paradise" throughout our shift.  Everyone stayed out of our way.  Another time we were closing the place together and started randomly throwing cleaning fluids into the mop water.  When a white poison gas wafted out of the bucket we fled the place in stitches.  Then there was the time that Jeff and I challenged two ladies that worked there to a tennis match.  We were good, but not at tennis, and we bought them their steak dinner.

I have a terrible memory.  Big chunks of my childhood, and of my life through high school and beyond is absent from my mind. So if you measure the days that I remember from my life then I am really 19 years old.


But I remember this:  Jeff and I hung out together, listened to music together, did side jobs together, went to each other's houses constantly, yearned for the company of the Scorpionettes (the objects of desire of all healthy young male citizens of Satellite High School), worshipped the Muppet Movie, and spent hours talking about life and everything else.  And so much more.

We grew to respect one another, and I knew him as a soul with a heart of gold.

So what happened?  What often happens.  We grew apart.  He went his way, I went mine.  Life got in the way.  It's only natural.

So it was a surprise when Jeff contacted me and said that he had been following my blog.  He said that he liked the two abstract pieces that I had done, which you can see here and here.  The first, "Organic/Inorganic" was my response to the news that a close family member had cancer.  It dealt with invasion, injustice, and vulnerability.  The second, "Mortality" was my response to the death of my employer of eleven years.  It portrayed the passage of life.

I considered them a series of two.

Now there is a third.

Jeff asked me to continue the series with a piece that would portray the "fragility of friendship,"

This was different for me, and quite difficult.  Whereas the others had sprung unbidden (one was actually from a dream), I had never attempted to intentionally portray a concept abstractly before.

This is a semi-abstract piece, I suppose, as I've used the analogy of a river for the lifeline.  This is consistent with the nature references in the other pieces, and it has the flowing and directional qualities of the others as well.

Each tributary represents the encounter with a new person (they with their own lifelines as well), and each adds a pattern which the main lifeline carries with it.  So by the time this life reaches a ripe old age, the pattern is very complex.  The person carries the vestige of all of the experiences and encounters he or she has had to some degree or the other.  The person is far more sophisticated by reason of these encounters than at the beginning.  These encounters have impacted the person.

I like the analogy of the river (and I toyed with many visual concepts), although it is not the most original, because it so easily illustrates this concept but also because I could visually represent by the land between, that the individual's environment (whether physical or through major life stages events) changes over time as well.

So thank you Jeff, for stretching your old friend just a little bit further after all these years.