Keeping a Commission Fresh: View from a Garching Window

When my good friend Jamie Hoffman asked for a custom painting, I immediately began to think of how I could incorporate some of her favorite elements from my other paintings and the color scheme from her home into something original and interesting. She mentioned how much she loved The Niña and Pinta at the Docks, but talked about Showers Over University Drive as well, a rather different work indeed. My painting of Columbus' ships is quite clean and delineated, whereas I purposely made my depiction of University Drive wild and even a little sloppy. One painting makes me think of travel and the meeting of the Old and New Worlds, the other is about urban planning and how it can have an impact on community life. As I was contemplating the paintings, I remembered that there was a scribble in my sketchbook that I had done while staying at a friend's apartment in Garching, and from there my composition continued to take shape. [The edge of the canvas, below, painted to go well with the greens in Jamie's house.]
Garching is not a tourist destination; it is simply a fairly pleasant suburb of Munich. It does not sprawl uncontrollably and it is pedestrian-friendly. I could awake on a cool morning to the sound of birds singing and shopkeepers greeting each other on the street before opening time. The bakery was right around the corner. Germany's famously excellent public transportation system is not an afterthought in this small town, in fact, the subway station is bright, admirably clean, and decorated artistically with vivid panels of color. While I was there, a local art group had even placed some of their work behind glass panels in the station. Being able to paint what was, in my mind, the antithesis of University Drive gave me an opportunity to use the common compositional elements that a street scene provides to create new contrasts-- to clean up some of the mess, to brighten the scene, to make it more comfortable, to give it a sense of adventure. I am happy to present this painting, filled with friendship, travel, good memories, and warm wishes, to Jamie and her family and hope that they will enjoy having it in their home and much as I enjoyed painting it!

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