and other braindrops


The Paddock

editor's note: again with the crazy typing here. I just tried to back space a half a dozen times to remove a period at the end of a sentence only to realize it's a spot on my computer screen. Where's Mable when I need her? Because even in her inability to type efficiently with those paws she is clearly better at it than I. Insert laughing emoji face here.

We all have a special place we used to visit as a kid that just thinking about it takes us back. It might be the church you grew up in that brings up a sense of nostalgia. Or a special family vacation spot. All of this "home time" has me feeling especially wistful these days.

The Paddock in Allentown, PA was a place we used to go as kids with my dad. (It's also the place where we would catch the bus to NYC but that's a story for another day!) Cheesesteaks at The Paddock were where it's at when my sister and I were kids. There were other diners we would frequent in the Lehigh Valley where we grew up but The Paddock stands out as an icon.

My dad passed away several years ago but I hear from him regularly. Little oddities that let me know that he is right there just over my shoulder and just beyond consciousness. Like most children I didn't appreciate him and his brand of parenting while he was alive but it gives me a sense of peace knowing he's still got my back.

Shortly after my return home from Ireland I had a dream about my dad.

(incoherent brain drops follow)

We were at a diner/gas station getting something to drink, but we had to sit at separate tables. Then we were in the car driving down the road and I was so thirsty. I told him I needed a cup of coffee but that we didn't have to stop at Starbucks because i knew he didn't like their coffee. He told me that Starbucks was fine since I really wanted it. I looked down and had a cup of coffee in my hands and felt so relieved. Then I woke up.

Fast forward a few days and I was painting live on Facebook (here's a link to one of the videos) and decided to turn this dream into a painting. The more you can personalize your subject matter the better. Why paint beach scenes in Bali you've never visited from photographs if you live in the mountains? I digress. This particular piece really shows the evolution of how I'm adding borders and patterned frames around my paintings. More is More is More. What I'm really drawn to lately is the looseness and quirk of my broader strokes contrasted with tighter and more detailed parts. This seems to be the driving force of the paintings for the moment.

The painting of the two figures would be fine on it's own, matted and framed or mounted onto a panel and hung as is. But for me, now, I need to expand them to continue the story. I want to control the narrative for my observer. It's also driven by this fascination I have with pattern, texture, and decoration in everything from fashion to interiors. Most of my patterns come from swatches and odd pieces I keep in my studio. Why not add it into my artwork? And while I often will physically add a piece of textile into my paintings, I also enjoy drawing and painting the patterns as well. It seems to be a restful exercise after the uncertainty of painting large and organically.

I decided to turn the dream into the border around this painting. I included a diner, a car, gas pumps, and cups of coffee. Normally I don't plan the colors of the frames and borders to "go with" the painted image because I like the unplanned contradictions in color and vibe that come with random pairings but for this one I actually planned the colors and story being told.

Initially cows in the border seemed obvious and would have tied in the idea of the cheese steaks but I had this chicken block cut already so decided to use it instead. This cobalt blue next to this bronze paint from GOLDEN is especially satisfying right now. I find myself reaching for it quite a bit lately, also showing it next to a pale pink which is somehow soothing in it's femininity. The striped secondary border is based on a blue ticking striped shirt of my dad's I wear in my studio as a smock, however I switched up the colors to suit the color scheme of the painting.

Something else I discovered creating this piece is how much I like the presentation of the painting on watercolor paper mounted onto a large panel with the patterned border around it. Definitely planning on using this arrangement quite a bit moving forward.

At least until I get bored with it and move onto the next braindrop. ~staci

"cheese steaks at The Paddock"


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