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The time span to make one of my paintings can be wildly variable. Sometimes a work can come together in a matter of hours; other times, as in the story of Lattimo, it can take several years - albeit with gaps in between to attend to other work.


I painted the blush background onto the canvas over two years ago. I liked the base and especially the depth of the grey tones it contained. But I must have become immediately distracted afterward, because after its application I had no further direction for the work. So, it went into storage, and was buried under a stack of canvases. 


Fast forward to the 2020 pandemic, where I unearthed the canvas while searching my home for other art supplies. I later took it to the studio, where it received a grounding stroke of chalk white that established its central form. The continuous line contains both translucent and highly opaque sections, which reminded me of milk glass. I connected with that gesture, but the momentum slowed once more.


With the milk glass reference in mind a few weeks later, I applied a light wash of a coffee-colored tint in barely discernible strokes and lines. It was too subtle to point the way further so I put it aside for the third time.  About a month later I picked up a favorite reference book, The Alchemy of Things: Interiors Shaped by Curious Minds (Karen McCartney; photographs by Michael Wee). I landed on a spread I'd seen many times before – the bathroom of Sydney-based interior designer Tamsin Johnson's own beachside home, with its sea glass walls and stunning green Murano glass sconces. I loved the way the sconces' translucent glass segments were framed by emerald hues concentrated on the outer edges of each piece, then threaded together by what appeared to be an iron-black horizontal frame. The melon-colored pillow on the settee was exactly the right warming antidote to the sconces, which were at once solid and fluid. As I thought about how to translate each of these elements through diluted acrylic, my mind returned to the milk glass painting. I knew the alchemy was on target once I recalled that milk glass (lattimo in Italian) originated in Murano. Painting can be about finding what McCartney describes as "visual commonalities in all sorts of pieces", as well as weaving together each element's connotative significance.


Lattimo in progress.

The Alchemy of Things: Interiors Shaped

The Alchemy of Things: Interiors Shaped by Curious Minds

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