Aug 06, 2014 48 Comments
As my eyes came upon the worn door on the heavy old house, I saw the painting in my head. I saw generations of hands turning a now missing knob and centuries of families and friends passing over its threshold at the rear of the house. And how it sat today as the sharp cut of light and shadow across its etched face highlighted both its resilience and the toll of so many days.

Roberts Door
32" x 54", Oil on Canvas

The painting followed the predictable arc as the initial idea bowed under the weight of the paint. The window in the background… it came and went. Curtains came and went. Words were scribbled in the paint but they were too distracting. A figure in the shadows emerged and disappeared. Then there was the copperhead snake - northern not southern - that visited, coiled in the foreground, after days of drawing (do I have it look at the viewer, or point to the door? If pointing at the door is it suggesting a path or waiting for someone?). This is how a painting is made. There is the story in my head and the story that emerges in the making. The story of the passageway, the promise of the light beyond, of the history of those that came before, and the temptation of the knowing (“sin” for lack of a better word?). And more rattling around in my head and on the canvas. Or it’s just an old door.

I’ve done some research, incomplete at this point, on the sturdy structure. The house in southeast Pennsylvania, stoutly built of stone and covered in stucco and loosely scribed to suggest large blocks, would seem to have passed from a father to a son. The latter, Mr. Joseph H Roberts lived there with his wife Elizabeth and their young daughter Ellen, in the mid to late 19th century. Before then? I don’t yet know. It lies on what was very likely land owned by the Puseys - one of the first big Quaker land owners from the days of William Penn. Today, it sits on a plot of mown lawn with its interior falling in on itself. This information doesn’t, I suppose, matter when it comes to the questions of how to make this painting. But somehow, even though I’m not attempting to make a portrait of a place, the story of the house and this door matters.



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Sebastian Green    Aug 14, 2015  at  11:55 am

I love the look of this painting. It really puts things in perspective about the modern ,,art” pieces, all of them are straight lines and angles. True art is done with heart

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