Friday, February 24, 2012
This Could Take A While.
Portugal's coastline is dotted with old forts. Some have been preserved as museums, some are restaurants and hotels, and some are falling into ruin. There's one very near my house that seems to belong in the latter category, although it's hard to tell for sure, since it's surrounded by a high wall, within which trees and dense brush crowd together. It's tough to get a view of the thing, but what one can see - mostly these corner watch posts - is very dramatic, especially in late afternoon, when the light is golden.
Much closer to my house, just a couple houses over, in fact, is a beautiful little home that was recently reclaimed from dilapidation. I like to walk past and see what a dramatic change the owners have made. They resurfaced the crumbling walls and painted them white, and they reset the paving stones that run along the margin of the street. Above their gate towers an old cedar tree. They trimmed it back so it no longer blocks their driveway, and now in late afternoon, the sunlight finds its way into the interior of the tree, and highlights the intricate network of branches that used to reside in perpetual shadow. I walked past that tree earlier this week, and as I thought for the thousandth time about painting those lacework branches, it occurred to me that they would look particularly good forming a backdrop for the watchtower of a fort.
I thought, too, that I'd like to work in colors that not only put across the golden light and the deep shadows, but that also refer to that school of painting practiced by people like Percy Gray, who painted in California in the first half of the 1900s.
Other references keep rattling around in my mind as I'm working. For some reason, I keep thinking of Gustav Klimt and old Japanese woodcut prints.
I wouldn't say that what I'm doing looks anything like either of those, or, sadly, like anything that Mr. Gray would have painted, but I'm aware of all of them, and I think each, at least in some small way, influences me.