Best recollection is that this painting began in 2001 although it was not declared done until 2009, when the foreground with its crossing stripes  finally came forward (being, all the while, flat), marking a small victory in my struggle to modulate color appropriate to space so that the pedestrian traffic markers remained stuck on the pavement while the pavement colors created an illusion of depth and/or forward movement in space.  Who would have thought straight lines could present such a challenge?  The zebras, arranged in perspective so that they might appear the result of the great rose window figured above, was one of a series of works with “crossings,” where human figures faced with potentially fateful junctures are challenged by rolling machines traversing their paths.  In this instance, I hoped that the apparent stability of the south façade of Notre Dame in Paris with its many fixed circles might have something to say to the horizontal “movement” of tires caught in the sticky  time of an oil painting where depth on a flat surface is always an illusion supplied by the imagination of viewers looking at a “still” with two eyes.

Primary Cars, oil on canvas, 31 x 45 inches, copyright ©1998

Chez Prune, oil on canvas, 30 x 20 inches, copyright ©2010

Green Lady Crossing, oil on canvas, 28 x 30 inches, copyright ©2009

Water Girl, oil on canvas, 20 x 32 inches, copyright ©2002

Above, other paintings with Crossings.

Meanwhile, viewers may be interested to hear of the artist’s re-entry to Pacific Standard Time after two months elsewhere.  Re-location was an arduous journey for ten newly begun paintings that had evolved from pieces of white canvas imported from Accent Arts in San Francisco to Seattle  to Paris where they became incipient  artworks .  Working conditions in M. Sciberras’ dining room at 25 rue des Vinaigriers, are wonderful in many ways:  good light, few interruptions, an easy reach from easel to palette.  The easel, however, is primitive, and the square-footage does not allow much distance for viewing.

Rue des Vinaigriers Easel Oct. 5, 2012

Moreover,  oil paintings do not travel easily:  rolling them up together is insulting to the paint and, when they are fitted into their long, sinister-looking black container, they are a red flag for TSA inspectors, eager to justify their presence by discovering little old ladies transporting bazookas.

Charcoal Cartoons at Vinaigriers
Black Mailing Tube

Nevertheless, for the past decade or so, a number of paintings have made this trip, usually one way, beginning in France and returning to Seattle for development.  Back in the studio, they are re-stretched, having left their French stretcher frames (“chassis”) in my friend Catherine’s “cave.”  At first, “development” could mean years.  Last year, the rhythm was less protracted:  something more like one month of steady work required to discover the inherent difficulties present in their initial “Parisian” state

Three laid-in paintings ready for the Seattle studio

followed by some weeks of Seattle struggle as re-visions followed by more re-visions were made with results which I might run by painter friends for critique.
Frames by Cloud City await their Paris-returned canvases

These, or most of these, should (Inshallah)  be available for viewing before 2014.

In things seen and unseen, created from nothingness,
The heavens, the hells, the worlds, the longed-for lands.

W. Stevens, Ordinary Evening in New Haven

One Response to “MERRY CHRISTMAS December 2012”

William Elston says:

December 16, 2012 at 9:04 am

Hello Sue –

Great post. I especially like the photos of your Paris studio. It also gives me a deeper understanding of your ‘crossings’ metaphor.