A Sense of Place

Truth: it is hard to find time for painting in the crush of full time work and full time school. Fortunately, another truth exists: the harder it is to find time to paint, the more I want to do it, and I fantasize about long hours with my easel, surfaces, brushes… Knowing my capacity for hedonism, I shouldn’t worry about losing my craft. But starting this piece, I was more than a little wobbly getting back to the process. For now, this is just an under painting, and I’ll be working on layering in richer color, more exacting line work, a truer depiction of my friend in the foreground. The stiff, scary Chucky Doll face I unintentionally rendered will need to be worked over. The distinctive bridges in the background create movement and ground the portrait in Minneapolis and the Mississippi.

Facelift Detail
Facelift Detail

I promised Ashley a portrait a long time ago, when we vacationed on the gulf coast of Florida, with the migrant coconut trees and the manatees, and a dolphin with a prosthetic tail that was all over the bus stops. We took a few photos there that I could have used as studies for her portrait, but I came across a better, more narrative photo of her recently to serve as the foundation of this portrait .

The Stone Arch Bridge in Minneapolis’ old mill district is one of the oldest structures still spanning the Mississippi. It used to carry trains over the river to the factories that made Minneapolis famous for its flour. You can get one of the best views of the fourth of July fireworks sitting in the grass near where the bridge crosses, if you don’t mind copious applications of mosquito repellent. There is a high bluff covered in long prairie grasses and wildflowers, and when the sun goes down, you can hear cicadas cheering through the fading heat. Up on the bluff, the fireworks erupt at eye level and light up the running water below.

We rode in a tipsy, laughing convoy of street bikes last fourth to lay down Ashley’s blanket at this spot, make empty Gatorade-bottle bombasse cocktails, smoke cigarettes (only some of us), and be excited like thirteen-year-olds about fireworks, about summer biking, and the dusky thrill of evening by the old running water.

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