I finally finished my small painting of the Elmwood Cafe. My initial inspiration was the yellow striped awning. It acts as a halo, backlighting the engaged figures. In the foreground sits an exaggerated still life. The circular shapes in the still life are nestled among vertical stripes - found in chairs and ceramics. Likewise, the people are nestled among vertical stripes, found in chairs, windows and awnings. There are many arch shapes in the painting to soften the vertical lines. A zig zag path starts from the cafe door, leads through the figure with the colorful shawl, to the napkin and bowl in the foreground, and straight to the viewer via the spoon. This is a small painting with a lot of elements woven together. The Elmwood Cafe is a great place to visit, and they donate half of their profits to charitable causes such as Vida Verde and the Go Green Initiative.
The same week I finished the Elmwood Cafe painting I came across this painting in a Bonnard catalogue from a recent exhibition at the Beyeler Foundation near Basel. This painting is called La Nappe Blanche. You can see my attraction to a composition consisting of figures and a still life nestled among vertical lines and colorful stripes. The white table cloth serves as a canvas for round shapes, abstracted figures, and the colorful pattern of a sweater. Bonnard's painting also displays a mix of light sources. I really love his paintings and am enjoying this recent catalogue.
What is it about the Volkswagen bus? Somehow it always creeps into my paintings. It is a beautiful shape, can take on any color, and carries meanings of many kinds. There are the generic metaphors: travellor, adventurer, hippie, bohemian and of course peace lover. To me the VW bus is also a memory of my childhood. After my dad taught in Spain for a semester, he travelled to Germany to buy a VW bus for our family. We travelled around Europe for a summer and then brought it back to Utah. It was our family car for several years, even when we had to start pushing it for a clutch start. My most vivid images, however, are our travels through Europe. They are some of the earliest memories of my life and have remained with me for so long because they are fused with the impressions made by travel and new places.
For example, I remember when my dad's friend Trevor caught his wool coat in the sliding door. He was stuck there for a very long time. Eventually the only remedy was to cut the coat. I had always admired that dark green wool coat, so it was very traumatic for me to see a chunk of it cut away so coarsely.
I also remember the games we played, long before car seats were required for children. We would sit on top of the back seat and wait for bumps to topple us over. Or when the middle seat was removed, we'd see who could stand up for the longest as the bus was driving around.
I loved the VW bus just as much then as I do now. It's a beautiful creature that can find its way into any painting. If they can't bury me with a viking boat, then I'd be just as happy to travel into the afterlife with a vw bus.