14th & Leary

14th & Leary; Oil on Panel; 9 3/4" x 7 1/4"; 2006; Collection of Sue Danielson 14th &; Leary; Gouache Collage on Bristol Board; 14" x 11"; 2006

One early fall day some years ago I stopped by the Ballard Book Co at 14th and Leary to pick up shelves for my ever-expanding art book collection. I'd been by the used car lot across the way many times with its ancient signs and piles of junkers rising high above the fence, but that day it was as if I was noticing it for the first time.

I stared at the grid of roads and white lines and phone poles and the sky blue fence slipping through the surrounding grays and neutrals and took some pictures. 

In the first few studies I made I stuck to the palette in the photograph, with that blue I was so sure I wanted. 

It took several sketches and two collage studies to realize that the picture wanted something different. After hours of staring and trying out different color schemes in my head I realized it was the blue that had to go, along with the bit of red I had got from a sign on the fence. I took them out and centered on the remaining strictly neutral, gray & brown palette.

The violet was a late-comer I allowed in cautiously till it integrated into the overall idea. 

In other ways, as in all my Squarescapes, I stuck closely to the details in my photograph, selecting and simplifying. To me these are highly realistic paintings. They represent the scene as I see it. Yet in the end the painting is a place in my head - or in the head of whoever's looking at them.

Having settled on a palette, I wanted to see how the same tightly worked composition would play out in two entirely different mediums.

The clarity and simplicity of the collage piece is important to me; I've never worked in such a hard-edged way before. But in the oil version, the continuous areas of painted and cut Bristol board break into dabs of paint and many more color modulations.

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14th & Leary, the collage version, is available.

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