Of Old Southern Towns and Wintery Days

It is always a pleasure to do a painting for Jamie and Andy Hoffman, and given the three prior pieces they have commissioned from me (View from a Garching Window, Maple Ripples, and The Happy Turtle), I wanted their newest commission to look backward and forward simultaneously; in some ways it is thematically related to the other three pieces, with a nod to their love of nature, color preferences, and my history as an artist, but with a conscious sense of stylistic evolution too.  That having been said, Winter Village, below, is inspired by a photo that I took in Athens, AL [above] when I was still in high school.  I loved old towns and the fantastically gnarled trees of the American South as much then as I do now, though at the time my favored medium was photography, and I was often spending winter, summer, and spring, wandering around sleepy towns, tangled woods, stony creeks, and junk yards with a 35mm camera, fleeing the suburbs to experience the sense of "authenticity" and "romance" I found in the countryside.  Many of the towns I visited were very quiet, sometimes even a bit lonely, but most were cosy places, and all seemed rich with shapes, textures, stories, and a interesting mix of overgrown nature, stately (even when small) older homes, and barns and storefronts and sheds in varying states of repair.  

Recently, when driving back from a trip to Lexington, KY through Ardmore, TN with a friend who grew up there, we found ourselves discussing the charm of some of these places, and agreeing that a certain amount of weathering is an important part of it.  (We were soon avidly discussing the way the Italians actually prefer to leave historical buildings and ruins in a state of disrepair for effect, of course. . .)  I wanted the painting to blend man-made structures into nature in the way that some of my older pieces, such as Emerging Red or 417 Greenacres Drive, do, but with some of the softer brushwork of the much more recent Roma.  Most importantly, I hope that the result will be a cheerful addition to Jamie and Andy's home and am honored to be able to add another piece to their collection!

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