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HOMAGE TO CAMILLE

an acrylic experiment on a unprimed board 8' tall x 1' wide, 2003, by Chris Wayan

Asian woman over seven feet tall, nude, smiling, standing legs akimbo, hands on hips, flowers at her feet, ladybug on her thigh. Face of an Asian woman smiling; acrylic on wood


I'm in City Art Gallery of San Francisco. It's a co-op, and I prefer that to traditional galleries--you meet lots of other artists and get to trade ideas. It's like art school for free!

One of my friends at City Art is Camille Porter, who paints on shelf boards eight feet long but only a foot wide. It's esthetically impossible, but somehow she pulls it off. Curious, I tried it too, but at first I couldn't compose on something that narrow.

But at last I realized Camille doesn't compose ON the surface, the way they'd teach you in art school. She has an older approach, a Renaissance approach: she sees it as a window, a glimpse into a wider world beyond, and the picture's composed in that space inside your mind.

The moment I realized this, I saw this painting, essentially whole, and painted straight from my mind's eye, with no material model at all.

No, this isn't Camille herself! A tempting idea--Camille's gorgeous, and what better tribute?--but the person who popped into my mind was a dream-figure. This is Silky, my anima--a guide, friend and sometimes lover who's appeared in countless recurring dreams.

Silky's a playful, kooky, rather easy-going person, but the painting seen full-sized (not this little Web copy) has a strange presence rather unlike her. Close to seven feet tall, this woman is a bit intimidating--a goddess in her own space, glimpsed through the narrow door of dreams.

And to me that's how dreams seem. A very big universe we mostly see through a very narrow door (if at all).

And mistake the portal for the world beyond.



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