creation story: Louis Poole, Painter 

Poole rendered the house in "an axiomatic way," he says. "It was not in perspective and was done with a hairline, architectural-type drawing. I was trying to justify a way to paint it and still be modern." Since painting that pink stucco house, Poole has never looked back.

What makes him want to paint a house: Poole spends a lot of time driving around the city and through the country, seeking out houses that he can use as subjects in his paintings.

He seems to be drawn to simple low-slung bungalow-style and cottagey-type houses, old houses from the 1920s and '30s. These are often simple, humble houses, but houses with a history and a past.

"I don't know what it is, but I've got this sort of fascination with these houses," Poole says. "They just sort of stand out and announce themselves. It is always these older houses that kind of have a repose, and it's not an attitude like an arrogant attitude … but they've sort of settled into their architecture and are shaped by their experiences."

At the same time he is attracted to the character of the houses he paints, Poole is also interested in their architecture. "On a formal level there's an attraction … to the planes and the linear elements," he says. "I like the fact there are a lot of big, flat shapes folded into a house that you can put paint on."

How he works: Poole will spot a house he is interested in, stop his car and take photographs, or, if he has time and the neighborhood is a safe one, make a series of detailed sketches. When he gets back to the studio, he starts a painting by making an architectural-type drawing of the house directly on the canvas with pencil, using straightedges to work out the perspective. He then begins painting over this drawing, and it is at this point that he begins to think about artistic concerns such as color, and "how far to push the more formal elements and more abstract elements. " He says he does a lot of paint scraping, and often changes colors, until he gets things just right.

Although Poole's paintings are quite painterly, with vibrant colors and lush brushstrokes, he always tries to preserve some of the quality of the initial architectural drawing that is the foundation for each work.

The colors Poole uses are arbitrarily chosen, he says; they just have to look good together. For instance, he is currently working on a painting that depicts a modest white country house with a vibrant green tin roof. "It immediately has a sort of character because it's got that kind of roof," he says, "but I don't even think that's the kind of roof that house really had."

How he knows when he's finished a painting: "I think it's pretty subjective," he says. "It depends on how I'm feeling, how many cups of coffee I had before coming down here [to the studio], what CD I put on. Sometimes it can work pretty quickly. Sometimes it takes forever."

What it's like being a full-time artist: Poole was laid off from his longtime retail job about a month ago. "I see it as a positive thing," he says. "I used to think about painting full time all the time. It will be a financial challenge, but just having the time to paint is really wonderful."

He hopes to spend the next few months creating a body of work and is looking forward to rethinking his house paintings. "It really should be lending itself to more abstraction, and I want to push that," he says.

— Jessica Ronky Haddad


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