Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Painting: "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Prosperity"

I haven't written in quite some time, so I should update!  I actually just found out a few weeks ago that I am a finalist in the art contest I entered at the end of 2008.  The contest was sponsored by the Enclave apartment complex in Silver Spring, Maryland.  I could choose from 3 themes, and I chose "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of...", using that theme for my title, and ending it with "Prosperity".  Hopefully you can see why from my painting.  It is a large canvas, 36 x 48", done in acrylic.  

I did a lot of preparation for this painting: brainstorming, sketching, photographing, researching, collecting images, etc. before I even started painting it.  It took me two weeks total, but it was well worth it.  The subject is from part of the actual Enclave apartments.  I visited there for about an hour, and took many photographs, using them all as reference, and not painting directly from a particular image.  I wanted to capture the height and the curvature of the building, and I think I succeeded.  What do you think?  I thought it was important to use a large canvas to portray such a large building.  I want the viewer to look up at the painting and have their eyes drawn to the top, just as mine where when I visited the buildings myself.

I am a lover of American Art, and as such, some of my favorite artists served as my inspirations for this painting.  Among them are Georgia O'Keeffe's cycle of cityscapes, Precisionists Charles Demuth and Charles Sheeler, and the Works Progress Administration prints by Gerhard Bakker.  I did a lot of thinking, writing, and researching of what buildings mean to America.  The city, the skyscraper, are landmark symbols of our identity.  There are so many dimensions to portraying the American industrial landscape.  Perhaps it is because I am drawn to good use of line in art, but I think it is only fitting for cities and buildings to be portrayed in this modern, geometric way, with crisp, clean lines.  

The artists that inspired me painted many of their cityscapes during the 1920's, and stopped with the stock market crash, when the once prideful symbol of strength became a painful reminder of the failure of business.  I wanted to take a different
approach, not shying away from it in this economic recession.  This painting is meant to be a more positive approach, reflecting my optimistic personality.  I wanted to show the sun casting shadows on the building, looking ominous, but peaceful.  Is the sun setting or rising?  It is not meant to be clear, but I wanted to draw the comparison to the glass being "half-empty or half-full".  For me the sun is rising, though uncertainty lurks around the corner of this economic crisis.  Hope can be reflected in the lights of the building: a symbol of life, activity, and perseverance of the American people.  As Americans, we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but also to the Pursuit of Prosperity (at least I think we do).  I kept thinking that if I were to live in one of these apartments, I would have a prosperous life, and that I would be ok no matter what happened with the economy.  Because it's true, that America will turn around eventually and once again prosper.  We just have to wait for it.

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