Well recently I have wanted to do a series of paintings of houses, I guess another series exploring the intimacy of our spaces isn’t much of a stretch after my domestic series. For the past few months as I drive around I find my self staring at the windows of house. Something about the spaces we dwell in, they are pragmatic, sentimental, private. The echo the the spaces of our minds holding all our thoughts and emotions.
The problem is to paint houses you need study shots. I was afraid walking around taking pictures of houses in my small town might get me booked as a peeping tom and give our otherwise generally unoccupied police something to do. So to avoid such unwanted escapades, I decide to make somewhat awkward introductions to my fellow townspeople. So last night after dinner I drove down by the center of town. I knocked on people’s doors, handing them a business card “Hi, I am Leslie, I live here in town, I am an artist. Your house in charming and I was wondering if I could take a few pictures of your house to used as references in a new series I am going to paint”.
I have to say all my interactions turned out to be lovely. Once they understood what I was doing…. One woman admitted to saying the rosary when she heard someone knock on the door. Then we got into a discussion about ants and diatomaceous earth and she recommended I read some of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s short stories. Another woman at first thought I was soliciting commissions, but I explained no I didn’t intend to sell them to the owners of the houses at all. She then invited me in to see a painting they had done of their house years ago and actually asked if I would paint a portrait of her dog. The owner of the yellow house- was worried because it was under renovations and wasn’t done yet. Even just talking to these few people and taking pictures gave me a more intimate view of their lives and reminded me that it is only a mere moment that moves us from strangers to people connected.
Compositionally I want to play with the angles and parts (you know how I love to chop things off!) and vantage points. Exploring color, flattening out shapes and shadows. As I painted this one last night it felt a little like Wayne Thiebaud goes painting with Edward Hopper.