At some point I needed to stop painting landscapes because I became fascinated with isolating the objects in my paintings. I’ve come to believe that actual sites and places have an individual magic. The goal is to take objects from popular culture and paint them in a new context. First I pulled the palm tree out of the landscape, (in fact, the same palm tree), and painted it in many colors. Then I bought dozens of canvas and began to paint the silhouette of the Life Guard Tower more as a pop art symbol than landscape element.
From that Monkey Brain leap I began to paint bits and pieces of board games. My husband Jim has been designing and inventing board games for thirty years, and our homes and studios are filled with games and playing pieces. These playing pieces are a part of everyday life for me, just like palms, towers, and flags. So I’m painting the object as a symbol in the context of living in Los Angeles, the cultural capitol of the world, living with pop art and pop culture.
I fell in love with these charming lollipop trees getting off an airplane at LAX. There they were, rows of them, swaying in the breeze and welcoming me to Los Angeles. Palm trees are a perfect icon of Southern California because (like any true Angeleno) they originally come from someplace else. They were the perfect subject matter to help me explore my fascination with color and mood.
Most of my collectors buy a series of three or four Palm tree portraits and compose a color story of their own. Like me, they seem to be fascinated with they way these colors work together. Palms hang in peoples' homes and the lobbies of Hilton hotels. Singer-songwriter Barry Manilow even purchased seven palms for his recording studio. It turns out he bought them because he associated each one with a different note on the musical scale. Genius!
Life Guard Towers
I was first compelled to paint the Life Guard Towers when I drove up the Pacific Coast Highway in 1996. Just got off a flight from NYC –moving to Malibu with three daughters under four years of age. My first sketch of a tower was done in the back seat of a cab on my boarding pass. My husband grew up in the Palisades and spent his boyhood summers meeting friends at Tower 18. (Tower 18 became super important to me later, a story for another time) The delicate appearance of the diminutive wooden shacks against the backdrop of the big blue Pacific, and the broad sweep of ochre sand belied their importance. Life Guard Towers became for me not just a symbol of the beach, but literally of saving and protecting lives.
We are all looking out for each other.
And for a painter who is seduced by color and mood, living along the coast, that little dash of architecture against the infinite changes of light in the ocean and sky compelled me to paint and sketch towers hundreds of times. The Life Guard Towers inspire me on many levels.
Does everyone have that memory of the perfect summer afternoon, spent playing board games at the cabin with the smell of rain in the air? I'm fascinated by the response these board games (in their bits and pieces) evoke in us as adults. Sure there's the tug of childhood and nostalgia, the innocence of playing a game with clear rules and clear winners. But there is a quality of otherness I experience when I paint a row of dominos, or my favorite monopoly mover, or the last piece of the puzzle. Whenever I look at a flag, or a chessman, or a pile of Scrabble tiles, I know that these are iconic symbols that somehow exist before memory. Somehow, they live in an unconscious dream-realm where they represent something more than the detritus of playtime.