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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shades of gray against the community pool

It's always a Sunday when I can focus on tending my small garden of plants on the balcony overlooking the pool. I run my hands through the foliage, trim a little here and a little there, water, and sweep up the dirt dusting around them. I look for lizards and snails, and any possible culprit in the weekly spray of dirt on the tiles. Could it be just the wind? I spy an Asian woman across the way doing the same thing on her balcony. She never seems to look up my way, so we have never acknowledged each other. But I feel like the sweeping is a communal act. We are each making a willful controlling gesture for the beautification of our common environment.
Down the street a small altar has been set up to honor the two pedestrians killed a week ago. My sweeping seems like a small random act when thinking of the lives of others, neighbors in our community, who are violently removed from our midst. But... in my small realm, with a broom or a paintbrush, I choose to honor them. I didn't know them, but I honor them with prayer and intentional acts of beauty. Painting is an act of devotion.
This painting started as a study of negative space. Where do my possessions (the plants) touch the commons (air)? I tried to render the plants by drawing the pool area around them. Then I continued drawing...the floor tiles, the texture of the leaves, the shadows on the pots... until I filled in the plants in with shade and line. Maybe I went too far.

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