I know you've been waiting with bated breath for the exciting conclusion of my San Diego painting... and now, after more than two years, I do believe it is finished. Let me take you way back before I unveil the final product.
Here is the original inspiration -- a seedy-looking shop on El Cajon Blvd. in San Diego:
Here is where I started:
And here is where I left off a few months ago:
I couldn't stand the flowers, almost immediately after I'd painted them. I'm embarrassed to admit how much time I spent looking for images, drawing them, enlarging them, transferring them to the canvas, and then painting them... Maybe only my friend Amie, who once watched me spend an equally embarrassing amount of time painting life-like cowrie shells onto a different piece, can guess how long it took. At least those cowrie shells made the final cut. These flowers, on the other hand, really had to go:
I firmly believe that every step in the painting serves the painting somehow. For this piece, I'd really wanted to achieve that layered look I see on brick and concrete walls everywhere -- a result of shop owners trying to stay ahead of the graffiti. Really the only way to get that look is to paint over some shit you don't like, so there you go.
I started liking it again after some thin washes of cover-up, and blobs of light and dark paint here and there. Then I added a branch of eucalyptus leaves, which suited it much better than the silly cactus flower:
I kept looking at it and thinking that it still needed something in that space where the big "F" used to be. This is what stumped me for so long.
Finally I decided to stop thinking so much and to just do something. Hands! I like to draw hands! I'll draw some hands!
Hands? Not so successful.
Does it make any sense? I asked Jason.
"Sure," he said, "the hands are catching the eucalyptus branch."
Hands had to go.
More thumb twiddling for me, for breath bating for you.
Until I figured out that if the first branch looked nice, then maybe another one would be the best compliment:
And at last, the final piece:
San Diego Florist became San Di Flor, and now it's pared down even further to an enigmatic but fitting, "And, Or."
I'll leave the meaning up to you.