Sunday, August 27, 2006

Houscapes

526 Fernwood, Topanga also known as the Gingerbread House


The most frequently asked question in my artistic life is" Why houses? Why? Because our homes are one of the ways we truly express who we are. In a lot of ways our home and the buildings that we conduct business in reflect how we like to think of ourselves and express our identities. That in itself is interesting to me because we are not the architects of most of our homes and the places we work in but we paint them, fix them up, sculpt the grounds and remodel the interiors to reflect how we feel and live with ourselves and others.

My "Houscapes" capture little architectural slices of life that are often overlooked or neglected. Houses are like people, they have faces, a light glowing within that shines outward and hopefully something wonderful going on inside! In between the "Houscapes" that I paint to make a living, I splice in landmark buildings from Topanga. Eventually I hope to have a show of these pieces
so the people that live here can see glimpses of how I preserved the past. Painting houses still gives me a creative spark. When I was little, old houses were always intriguing, the attics that seem to be filled with secrets. I was drawn to books about houses and homes and I love old illustrations and paintings of homes. Through this blog I have been able to show my commitment to this subject and it is extensive! I have made houses in clay, wood, foam, paper, prints and paintings. In 1984 I went to meet a unique family on Maui. The lady invited me to meet Elisabeth Kubler Ross. She wrote many books but her groundbreaking book "On Death and Dying" is most well known. She ran a hospice on the island called Shanti Nalaya. There she told me the story of a little girl who was dying, she drew a picture of herself as a house and most of the drawing was pleasant, pretty colours , nice and neat. But in one small corner of the attic there was a black blob. The blob was her tumor, she fully recognized that she was the house and it wasn't a safe place anymore.The girl had an acceptance that was more refined than most adults that had to face that it was their time. This sounds corny now but I knew this was another sign to paint houses and buildings, it is my way to express feelings. Some artists paint people, some still lifes, while others prefer landscapes and I paint houses. A very thorough and well written review of the Topanga Art Studio Tour came out in July and it had to be covered by 2 writers and one photographer. The writer that interviewed me wrote a wonderful short piece about my work and it made me feel she got it: "Valerie Walsh's work also captures the magic of created places, the unique shells that house the lives of the people who work and live in Southern California. Her trademark "Houscapes" portraits of local homes and historic buildings combine a colorful, clean, illustrative style, with exaggerated dimensions, images that are whimsical, fantasy-like and humorous and which manage to communicate the absolute truth of Los Angeles' playful and diverse architectural history---images familiar to us all in a style that creates a sense of timeless preservation. ~ Laura Mauney

Houscape of 526 Fernwood, Topanga also known as the Gingerbread house





12 comments:

Janet said...

Always interesting!Love the little extra glimpses of your work!

LDahl said...

I love houses too....I don't draw them too often, but I always love looking!
I really enjoyed reading your "behind the scenes" stories.

tiffinix said...

Wow! How very amazing to know a little more about your history. Amazing story. My mother studied with Elizabeth Kubler Ross when we lived in Escondido when I was younger. Being around the people at the hospice really changed my perspective on dying - in a very good way. Amazing Val - I love that this is where your inspiration came from - that little girl. Your gingerbread house is wonderful as well.

kj said...

val, i so appreciate knowing the background of your "house-work". i read every word of this post with eager fascination.

when i paint, which is rarely these days, i tend to paint wooden birdhouses into a colorful neighborhood and write stories about the residents who live in them. houses are sacred space.

thanks again for sharing some of your foundation.

kj

Andrea said...

I have a couple pictures of Reno houses I will take and send to you. I think you will love them! Hopefully I can do it this weekend.

shawn said...

oh val! I SO enjoyed reading your latest post. I often "dream" of a house with many rooms I'm always exploring. Same house. Sometimes just different views of the inside. Or different floors or hallways. I think I heard somewhere the house represents ourself as well. And god knows i'm always working on my actual house and the one within me... so I feel warm right now reading what you just wrote. Thanks for taking the time.

john t. said...

valerie walsh? are you the co-creator of dora the explorer? if so...would you mind if i ask you a few questions?

i'm a college student majoring in the animation field and i would like to receive more information about the business...i would greatly appreciate it!

thanks!

Princess Pepper Cloud said...

Thanks for taking the time to explain your love of houses and where it comes from. It nice to have an extra insight to your wonderful warm and colorful homes. You are very talented and I feel lucky to be exposed to your art.

Roz Foster said...

Beautiful rendering of the gingerbread house. And thanks for the thoughtful explanation of your work's emotional and philosophical background.

HARDWAX said...

Fascinating reading the inspiration and history of all these amazing houses you share with everyone on IF. Love this house as well, it has a dignified and gentle vintage feel to it. Thoroughly enjoyed this post!

Lois said...

Hi Val,
Thanks for th insight into your art. I think all great art tells a story, both for the artist and the viewer. By interpreting your "houses" you allow for great imagination.

Doodlestreet said...

I don't know how I missed this one and I'm so happy I came back to read some of your older posts and found this. All part of the whole you that I am getting to know...

It doesn't surprise me at all that it was something this moving and emotional to compel you to move in the direction that you did...it's almost as if, as artist, when something profound like this is revealed to us, our senses...there really isn't even a choice. It is something we HAVE to do. I know you have that drive in you as an artist to 'do the work'. (although, even though we say that, it never feels like work..it feels like an extension of our soul).

Very intriguing to read of your inspirations...and thoughtfulness in sharing them...

thank you...