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Ed Stitt

Paintings & Drawings

My First 40 Years

Gas Station, Rainy Night

  1. Gas Station, Rainy Night 1992 oil on canvas 16x18" collection of Mark Macenka
    I taught beginning painting, a continuing education course, at Mass College of Art from 1987 to 1992.
    On raw, windy, wet nights, attendance would be low. So, I would paint alongside my students instead of breathing down their necks as they struggled through the various painting exercises I had them do. They often claimed it helped them to watch me paint. This was the scene looking out the fifth floor painting studio, which was across the street from this gas station, on Huntington Avenue, that's no longer there.
    Because it is difficult to see values at night correctly while inside a brightly lit room, I had to stick my head out the window to see what the colors and values really looked like outside. I'd have to force myself to remember what it looked like when I brought my head back in the lit room. Often when I pulled my head back into the room I'd bang the back of it on the window sash. You'd think after one or two times you'd remember. But because I was concentrating so hard on remembering the various tones, I'd forget all about the sash and, BANG, did it again. This was a painful painting to finish.
    The lighting of this was particularly challenging to work out. During the day there is a single source of light; the sun. At night there are many sources of light, and determining which one dominates, and how to make the values work together to make something glow, was fascinating and challenging. The flowing plastic banners brightly lit against the gas station (which was also lit, but dully) was difficult to do but fun to find. The red truck, painted so simply, says so much about the light and atmosphere with so little work – an economy of stroke.