Beginning in the spring of 2016 I started painting on canvas again. For the past several years I have been painting on wood in order to create figures in relief…I needed a rigid surface upon which to work. Over the years my work has been more and more concerned with surface texture, and the figures were not only textural, but intentionally in the third dimension. I suppose I had forgotten how great it is to work with the tooth of canvas. My way of applying paint was always fairly smooth and done with soft brushes. Over time, however, I’ve been building up the surface just with paint…without any prior treatment of the work in relief.

I live in Mussy-sur-Seine, a village with roots back to the Gallo-Roman period, but with remnants of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. Some buildings, alas, are in a state of neglect and are no longer occupied. At first glance, I suppose most people would find them uninviting, even threatening, because of their condition. After years of living here I have become more familiar with the building materials traditionally used in Mussy and elsewhere in the region. I started to appreciate not only the thought given to constructing door and window openings with heavy tailored limestone, but the way walls were built using roughhewn limestone quarried in the forests close by. The exterior walls were finished smooth with a kind of mortar made with ground limestone, sand, and local mud. This material is durable, up to a point. If it is properly applied and sealed with paint, it can repel the weather. However, if it is subjected to leaks from a roof, a window, or a doorway, it crumbles away. It is very common to see exterior walls, even in occupied and otherwise comfortable houses, with exposed stones…the old mortar having collapsed. Sometimes people never address the problem, sometimes they repair it with odd materials. The result is often curiously intriguing.

I am painting façades of buildings, usually only the door and an occasional window. I hope to evoke something that might be called le charme de délabrement. These buildings all have histories. They hold a thousand stories. Here are a few of them.

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20 rue Victor Hugo, Mussy

2016  Oil and Sand on Canvas, 70 x 50cm

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21 rue Victor Hugo, Mussy

2016  Oil and Sand on Canvas, 70 x 50cm

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12-rue-victor-hugo

House built in 1776, Mussy

2016  Oil on Canvas, 30 x 10cm

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12-rue-charles-lambert

12 rue Charles Lambert, Mussy

2016  Oil and Sand on Canvas, 70 x 50cm

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porte-de-grange

La Porte de Grange, Courteron

2016  Oil and Sand on Canvas, 70 x 50cm

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courteron

Maison à Courteron

2016 Oil, Sand, and Wood on Canvas, 50 x 70 cm

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15-rue-victor-hugo

15 rue Victor Hugo, Mussy

2017  Oil on Canvas, 40 x 20 cm

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house-at-vix

House at Vix

2017  Oil, sand, and wheat filaments on canvas, 70 x 50 cm

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door at vix2

Door at Vix

2017   Oil and sand on canvas  40 x 20 cm

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Autel

Autel  

2017  Oil and sand on canvas   70 x 50 cm

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porte à gommeville

Porte à Gomméville

2017  Oil on canvas  40 x 20cm

 

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wall at gomméville

Mur à Gomméville

2017   Oil on canvas   70 x 50cm

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porte de grange @ pothiéres2

Grange à Pothières

2017  Oil on canvas   30 x 40 cm

 

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porte sur la rue de canal

 

Porte sur la Rue du Vieux Moulin, Mussy

2017   Oil, sand, and acrylic on canvas   40 x 30 cm

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20 rue Boursault

20 rue Boursault, Mussy

2017   Oil, sand, acrylic, and paper on canvas   70 x 50 cm

 

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