First the confession.
I was returning a book to the library late at night a few nights ago and looked over at the liquor store. For some reason I just saw it as a finished painting with the black sky and the light pouring out of the store and an arrangement of cars in front of it. I did a quick value sketch but I really felt that I needed to go back and paint it. In fact I did go back the next night with my plein air painting equipment. However, when I got there I just didn’t want to get out of the van. I was over come with feelings that people will stare (even at 10 pm there were quite a few people in the parking lot). My thinking was along the lines that this is quite a strange thing to be doing, painting in a supermarket parking lot late at night. I was on the verge of saying I’ll just leave it for tonight and then I realized if I do that I’ll never do this painting. I’m pleased to say that I did get out of the van and set up right in the parking light under one of their lights and had an incredible experience painting for about an hour. I was too focused to look around but I don’t think people even really noticed me. This may not mean anything to people who have no fear but as someone who frequently self sabotages this was a big moment for me.
Second the painting.
I love the painting. It’s exactly what I envisaged in the thumbnail sketch. I love the sense of light pouring out of the store. I also feel that there is a strong sense of story in the sense of getting liquor late at night and why that’s happening. I like the looseness, you can see all the paint runs. It was painted with abandon. At this point I’m still too caught up in the experience to be objective about the real quality of the painting which will come as I live with it but at this point I’m very pleased. The bright red circle on the left is the logo for the new Target store.
In terms of a critique the one thing I would change next time is the sky. It has the right value and it has a nice impression of the lights in the darkness but I used 2 washes on the sky. I knew it had to be almost black and I thought my first wash was strong enough but later I realized it wasn’t. I felt I was being so bold in putting in that first wash but I was comparing it with white paper and it was certainly much darker than white but I needed it to be stronger still. That means using paint almost straight from the tube. The other thing I would change is to lower the building so it’s closer to the composition of the thumbnail sketch.
So the lesson from this whole experience is to feel the fear but do it anyway. Where will we get to if we keep letting our fears control our life?