Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Signs and Dinosaurs

Shane asked for a few plein air studies, so here are some streetscapes with plastic signs. These are mostly little paintings, 8x10 inches or so, painted outdoors. In this one I was interested in the color that a white house appears to be when backlit against a bright hazy sky. I was also interested in the mixed commercial and residential zoning. I get a kick out of doing these scenes of ugly beauty as a change from dinosaurs and utopias. I don’t do them to sell, just for fun.

Come to think of it, there’s a connection between dinosaurs and McDonald’s signs, because this entire mad enterprise will be extinct one day. A hundred years from now it will all have passed forever from the earth—McDonald's, Walmart, and Dunkin Donuts—and we’ll be nostalgic for it.

People in 2107 will look at the paintings surviving from our times and try to reconstruct what life was really like for us. They’ll see lots of barns and fishing villages but not too many parking lots and overpasses.


Anonymous said...

Walmart shall never die

But seriously, most of us have probably never really considered that most people paint the beautiful and harmonious, while we avoid the bad and the ugly(i.e. our present urban surroundings).

In the same way, we admire the ancient Greeks and Romans and try to duplicate their thinking processes. But if we reflect on history, we see that those processes (and those who adherred to them) led to unimaginable depravity of the human mind (i.e. gladiator fights, woman/child mutilation, human sacrifice, etc.)

We must never get caught up with only painting the good that we forget the bad. But certainly at humanity's present stage we won't forget it, at least for right now(just watch the evening news).

That's why so many of us are attracted to the Dinotopian paintings. It awakens something fresh and new within our hearts.


Thank you so much for posting these James. Amazing. These are so beautiful. You made a Mc Donalds sign feel elagent. The light breaking up the Chop Suey sign is so beautiful. Again ,so inspiring.
And I had NO IDEA you were coming to Dreamworks in a couple months! I and many of my colleagues would love to meet you and pick your brain. I can't wait. Please Keep me posted , and I will be sure to tell everyone here if they have not heard. Take care

Michael Dooney said...

Your mention of "ugly beauty" made me wonder if you are familiar with Bill Wray's landscape paintings. He is focusing on capturing vanishing America and recently had a show called "dirty beauty". Check out his stuff at http://williamwray.blogspot.com/

K_tigress said...

Love the ChopSuey sign.

Ha yeah see. I knew it really does benefit sketching interesting ugly places. Then later you can change them in to something beautiful. Kind of like the caterpillar to a butterfly.