I'm forever attracted to the store fronts and sidewalks of my Berkeley neighborhood. I've painted the Elmwood neighborhood several times. But a closer look at these paintings reveals that on a compositional level, they have little to do with their subject matter. For example, my painting of the Elmwood Cafe on New Year's Day: this view of College Avenue is merely an excuse to paint backlit yellow stripes and colorful balls. It also offers a diagonal color study of complimentary color schemes. The violets in the lower left quadrant lead up to the yellow awning. The blues of the upper left quadrant lead down diagonally to the chalky brick. The trees and poles stabilize this movement.
My painting of Star Market and the Turtle Island Book Shop also serves as a spring board for compositional play. This painting appears to claim meaning from its subject: the favored Berkeley Prius in front of
a strip of Claremont Avenue dedicated to local independent shops. But actually the composition revolves around abstract lines and shapes: rectangles, triangles, arches and hexagons. For example, the arches in the windows of the Turtle Island Book Shop echo the inverted arch
in the store’s sign. The viewer also knows that the same arches are on either
side of the mailbox. Because the non-arched sides of the mailbox are depicted
in the picture plane, the viewer is called upon to engage in the shape gathering. The store awnings provide further curves, triangles and
rectangles. The primary colors nestle in their places, surrounded by greens
browns and whites. The more one looks, the more one sees that this painting of Star Market and its neighbors is actually an abstraction.