One of my favorite paintings I’ve ever made, Trains/Dragons is sort of an intersection for me of two big themes:
- The train as a meaningful companion during a certain chapter of my life. I lived in a small apartment and a train would go buy multiple times a day out of my window. While I thought I wouldn’t like it, it became comforting. I also drove around a lot for my social work job, which means a lot of time in a car thinking in random, often beat up parts of Pittsburgh. Seeing the train while driving, it was easy to feel that the train had it’s own parallel existence. It wasn’t going to social work appointments, for sure, but it had something similarly important and similarly isolating. The train probably also had stories and moments from throughout the day that were equally impossible to fully articulate.
- The delight of childhood sensibilities. I think it’s of primary importance to stay in touch with things I’ve felt are cool since I was a kid. It helps me feel I’m alive and have accomplished something substantial. One of the reason I can talk to kids is because the person in me who still knows why Pokemon cards are important is still around. The train triggers a primary delight in me- the same kind of delight I have when I see a cool dragon. That delight is weirdly not symbolic- is primary. It’s not a stand in for something- it’s one and half year old fantastic. I still feel it.
So, as to the construction, it took six months. It took a lot of faith- I’ve had a lot of whiffs over the last few years, and this project often felt quixotic. One thing I learned from Jess and Eric’s House is that the construction of the whole picture and the construction of the little pictures needs to happen concurrently. See, if you make a lot of different pictures separately, they will all have their own focal point. The unified painting needs to have it’s own whole painting focal points- if every painting is doing it’s own thing, the painting won’t cohere. This painting works because I was able to see that and make a change.
Lots more thoughts about this painting- but I think that’s it for now. If you have any questions or comments or anything, as always please comment below.