Behind the Art: Life in the Zoom Lane

And just think, I owe a lot of this bold, colorful painting to a missing piece of paper.

Let me explain. See, as passionate as I am about painting, I generally take the winter off and close the studio.

That’s because I love skiing up at Tahoe. To avoid the heavy traffic and massive crowds up there, I almost always go during the week.

I check the weather forecast every single day and am always basically packed and ready to go on a moment’s notice if a storm is coming in.

In other words, from late December to mid April, it’s all about hitting the slopes.

Last winter, due to Covid, all the ski areas shut down early. So, there I was in March, ready to open the studio a month early.

I went to my ideas folders where I could have sworn I had a cool idea waiting for me. It was one that appealed to my mischievous sense of humor.

The sketch featured a fish looking into an aquarium and seeing strange objects inside, probably people. I loved the idea of turning the idea of people watching fish on its head.

I scoured through my ideas folder, checked my other files and nearly all my sketch pads. All to no avail.

Then came the breakthrough. Looking into the last sketch pad, I found a series of drawings I had done on a single sheet to practice a face for a previous painting.

As soon as I saw that collection of small faces, I knew I was onto something. I just didn’t know how it would play out.

Then Eureka…inspiration struck…and in the strangest of places.

See, my wife had set up her office at the dining room table during the shutdowns. From there she would hold Zoom video chats nearly every day.

While walking behind her on morning, I saw lots of folks inside the computer screen. It just struck me that they looked like they were floating in an aquarium.

I grabbed the faces sketch, finished it and put the people inside a “fish tank” that also features sand, plants, rocks and starfish at the bottom.

Then I put a mottled blue background on the sides and top. Of course, that’s open to interpretation, but it kind of reminds me of curtains that have been pulled back to reveal a new truth.

Naturally enough, I wanted the faces to be bold, colorful and almost surrealistic in nature. I considered this a sign of the times in which people spend hours a day inside an online “fish bowl” having video chats.

To add a sense of humor and foreboding, I painted in a shark. It gives the piece some comic relief and at the same time symbolizes the Covid virus itself that is still stalking us.

This painting was a lot of fun but also quite challenging to complete. I wanted each face to be very distinct and yet have the overall “color story”  of the finished painting be consistent and pleasing to the eye

With 14 faces to complete, that’s a lot harder than it sounds. But it was really worth the effort. I’m very pleased with how “Life in the Zoom Lane” came out.