A Room on Church Street

Room on Church Street – watercolor – 11 x 16 inches.

Ask any artist: painting what you can see – flowers, sidewalks, sunsets, people – isn’t it a difficult task? So how do you paint something you can’t see, like a thought, a feeling, a mood? You sense the presence of something, but you can’t quite put the feeling into words, let alone into paint. For example: what is happening in this room?

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3 thoughts to “A Room on Church Street”

  1. I see remembering. Maybe a loss of a loved one. A parent or relative who had passed. The sink and mirror are interesting as they harken back to a time when a pitcher and basin were common in rooms ( along with chamber pots).
    I like the colors and the softness of the scene. This is why I’m getting a feeling of melancholy but not deep sadness. More of a reflection really.

  2. I was having difficulty articulating my thoughts about this painting. I find it enigmatic, sort of suspended in another time. Possible “handles” are the title as well as the sink in the corner: both suggesting a boarding house from another time, but neither of these elements remove the enigmatic quality of the painting. And your thoughts, Michael, about painting what is not visible only deepen the sense of mystery. Frankly, that’s what ought to happen or what does happen with good/great art. Pinning things down is like pinning a butterfly in a display case: beautiful, but dead. What of “La Gioconda’s” smile? Good thing no one has been able to tell us with any specificity from where that smile comes. Not Dalí, not Dylan (“Mona Lisa musta had the highway blues. You can tell by the way she smiles.”) It’s a very good thing that nailing things down in art is not only unnecessary but, gratefully, impossible.

    So it is with gratitude that I read Alvin McManus’ comments on the painting: gentle, recollective thoughts. Observations that assist viewing rather than closing it down. Melancholia without identifying the source. The subject’s body language, almost a self embrace, is indicative of something, but something unknowable. Thanks, Alvin, for opening my eyes to accepting the mystery of this painting

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