Saturday, June 27, 2009

Current Project Update: Mid-Year 2009

I hope the summer of 2009 finds you well. Many of you want news of my painting, so here you go. I’m working every day on the same project, a panoramic painting of San Francisco, seen from the top of Alcatraz Island. The picture is on four canvases, each 7 feet long. The origins of this project are described in this earlier post. The light in the painting is summer light, and only occurs for a a short time. For most of the year, the north shore of the city is in shadow.

The weather smiled on me this year. I bought a ticket for the longest day, June 21, and the sky was clear of fog. The city was unbelievably beautiful in the summer light, as you can see in the video above.

The work is going well. I’m using mainly black and white, drawing in the city and getting more precise with each new layer. The detail above is of Yerba Buena Island and the Oakland Hills.

This detail shows Telegraph Hill and Fisherman’s Wharf. It is a great joy for me to paint the city. After living here twenty-two years, I have memories of almost every object. I’ve worked in these office towers, eaten in the restaurants, and waited in the freezing fog for a dawdling Muni bus, on almost every corner.

This is the place in the composition I’m working on today. You can see I’m moving left to right, making each object a little more specific.

Somebody is bound to ask, “When will you finish?” The answer is, “Not this year, and probably not next year.” It’s an odd sensation, looking at the same image for several years. It opens up different parts of my brain. Many years ago, I asked Ben Kamihirahow he could work on the same painting over so long a time. He said, “At this point, my attitude changes very slowly. Ten years to me is like two weeks to you.” You were right, Ben. I’m glad I made it to your side of that observation. Wish you were still here to compare notes with.