Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Evening in Halifax (oil on canvas 5 x 7 in.) SOLD!

30 August finds me in an old residential area of downtown Halifax, waiting for Adam to come out of his meeting, and sitting in my low folding stool by the wall of a building, to paint one of the row of little "wartime" houses directly across Bayers St. from the church parking lot of St. Catherine of Siena.

A little girl chatters directly above me, on an apartment balcony, and several minutes later comes down the steps with her mother and father and they drive away in a minivan.  I'm thankful to be in the shade, because it's been a very hot day.  The front of the house is in shadow but one of its windows reflects a sunlit sign on the storefront on my side of the street. The other front window of the house shows me the evening sun glowing through a curtained back window, and a bush in the front yard is just losing the sun from the tips of its branches. In the backyard, a big bush of blooming Japanese Knotweed peeks past the right hand side of the house.

I have only been painting for fifteen minutes or so, stroking the palings of the picket fence in pale blue-grey on my indian red underpainting, when the house door opens and a black man emerges with a watering can.  He waters the flowers in the planter on the front railing - almost to prove that these perfect little plants on the perfect little porch of this perfect little house are not artificial.  Or perhaps the house suddenly became self conscious, feeling itself being painted, and reached out to groom itself a bit.

Jim Strachan, the property manager of the church, comes over to tell us that we are welcome to park our trailer here overight, and we accept, as it will be more convenient to pick up our replacement battery, use the local laundromat, shop for groceries, etc. if we don't have to leave for the night and then come back into the city in the morning. Jim tells us that the house I am painting used to belong to Betty Devanney, and that it is owned by someone else now and is being rented out.

As the light fades and I hurry to get as much painting done as I can before dark. The minivan returns to its parking spot and the mother and child go upstairs.  The father and another man discuss the headlights of the minivan in some language that I don't understand, perhaps Greek, only a few metres from me as if I were invisible.

The street lights have come on, and although there would have still been enough light from the evening sky for me to continue, the values are now all different, so I'll have to finish from my photo.

4 comments:

  1. I love little old houses. We were shopping for a condo when I suddenly realized I actually wanted a little old house.

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  2. One feature of this campsite was the opportunity, the next afternoon, to observe over-heated Haligonians in their nearly stationary vehicles as they waited for the opportunity to get over the bridge to Dartmouth. Thousands of potential compositions presented themselves: "Woman chewing her nails in a minivan," "Man hunched over the wheel," and "Child struggling to get out of a carseat," to name just a few.

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  3. Love this picture .Can see why it sold.It has such character.Good job.Joan.

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  4. This was my grandmother's house (Elizabeth Devanney) and it is still in the family. Would have loved to purchased the painting before it went....four years too late.

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What do you think of this painting, and what do you know about the subject that I have painted?