North Braddock House #7

Techniques

I finished this recently while working on another, more complex commission. I used dried paint I had collected for the last few years and cut and glued it to the house, creating the overgrown effect.

I don’t know how to get more dried paint, though. The texture was created from it drying over time while I was using it, so I can’t just pour it out. It would dry flat. I like the houses because I can do theme and variation easily. Portraits is harder, because people’s faces are so particular. We use a different part of our brain to identify faces, which means that tiny variations can have huge effects. Painting the face is categorically harder than painting other parts of the body and inanimate objects.

With that said, I’m planning on doing smaller, less distinct portraits. I did it once before, but I haven’t developed it out since. It might give me a venue for doing theme and variation with people wihtout getting consumed by the details of the face.

Entropy

With the houses and many of my landscapes, I feel driven by mapping entropy. The sense that systems are running down is such a strange idea. I don’t know enough science to understand the math of entropy, and I bet that projection into a neighborhood falling apart is more poetic than it is scientific, but it gives a way for the neighborhood to be a microcosm about a larger, universal truth.

More and more I’ve started to feel that the decay I see all around me is a larger story somehow. I’m not sure how to qualify that. As a socialworker, I’ve seen housing decay in some of the best neighborhoods in Allegheny County. There always something tucked away that’s falling apart. Traveling, I’ve seen any number of failing towns. Is this what people mean by crumbling infrastructure?

How do invasive plants relate to entropy? It feels like there’s a spreading stain of things falling apart. I haven’t quite realized or articulated even to myself what I’m trying to get at here. Maybe painting more invasive plants and crumbling buildings will draw something into sharper focus.

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