I'm working on a painting at the
Malibu Pier. I wanted to capture
the quirky angles and the diagonals
of the stairways located at the end
of the pier. It is a view from a rooftop, looking down the stairs toward the main level of the pier. The picture plane has strong compositional elements, with an abstract quality that I like.
My first thought when I saw this spot, was that the lines of the architecture are similar to the structure of a Richard Diebenkorn painting from his Ocean Park abstract series. While my painting has developed in a realistic manner, the underlying drawing has a kind of abstract geometry. There is a sense of tension in the lines of perspective and the descent of the stairs.
It is a lively and beautiful place - it feels like standing on the bow of a ship.
I am fond of older architecture, and the Malibu Pier has a history going back over 100 years. It was built in 1904 for the Adamson/Rindge family who once owned 20 miles of this coastline. In the 1940's the pier was extended and the twin buildings were added.
Just south of Malibu is the city of Santa Monica. The artist I mentioned, Richard Diebenkorn, had a studio on Ashland and Main Street in Santa Monica. From the 1970's to the mid-1980's he painted the Ocean Park series. The 140 Ocean Park paintings are known for their rich color relationships and linear organization. Diebenkorn placed emphasis on structure of composition.
I have found inspiration in his paintings, which are essentially about drawing. When I spotted the stairways at the end of the Malibu Pier, I recognized the underlying drawing of a composition, and I wondered how it would work in a painting. I wanted to capture the windy and bright spirit of the place.
Richard Diebenkorn said, "All paintings start out of a mood, out of a relationship with things or people, out of a complete visual impression.”