An Undeveloped Lot

Steven Carpenter

St. Petersburg, United States

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Artist's Description

go to my website to see a larger view (the long format makes viewing on a computer difficult www.stevencarpenter.net)

the biggest key to understanding my paintings is to ask why. why is there an empty spot in the middle of a row of houses? why is there a guy standing in it? why does the woman dominate the scene and why can’t we see her mouth? why are the houses skewed? why the decaying picket fence? why sunflowers?

the title for this painting comes from the empty lot in the neighborhood. this empty lot is my lot, and i have yet to build my home on it. i have observed the homes surrounding me, and found them to be skewed. i have found that the homes outwardly reflect the state of the families within. they are sad, unbalanced, but still somehow magical and inviting. and strong, made of brick, able to withstand the destructive forces of the world. it is night, and the people should be sleeping, but instead, their lights are on. what is going on inside? why can’t they sleep, why can’t they rest? the picket fence also reflects the condition of the dreams of the people in this neighborhood. it started out perfectly white, straight and pure. now it is soiled, moldy, ragged and splintered.

i do not wish to build an unstable home, and resist the instinct to rush to start a family. instead i am looking back, away from the homes, looking up at the night sky, at the moon, trying to figure things out. trying to figure myself out, and how to let go of the dysfunctional lessons i learned in my family. lessons that would undermine any family i tried to start at this point in my life. i am also trying to come to terms with the struggles of my heart and mind. trying to find a way to resolve them so that i can someday begin building a family unburdened by the heaviness of my heart and mind. so there i stand, with the night sky enveloping me slowly. my hands are in my pockets, signifying that i am not fighting the dark night, but giving myself up to the magic and stillness of it. i know it is where i will find my answers. i am also wearing my uniform, red shirt and blue pants, signifying mania/anger and depression respectively.

the woman dominates the scene, much as longing for the love of a woman has dominated my awareness. she is beautiful and mysterious. her hair is long, blowing in the wind towards me, reaching to grab hold of me, and full of the color of life and warmth. at this point, however, she would destroy me. i spent most of my life longing for that love, first from my mother, then from childhood crushes, then other women. at some point i gave up on the idea that i need love from any woman to find peace and joy in my life. i still ache for it at times, and do hope to find it. but in this painting i have turned my back towards her, seeking what i need instead from nature, from the night sky and the magic of the moonlight. this woman is at once my mother, all the women i have felt drawn towards, and the woman i someday hope to find and build a life with. they are a mystery to me, and communication with them has at this point in my story, stopped. i cannot see their lips, i cannot know what they are thinking because they won’t tell me. it is a game, there are walls put up that keep me away, and so i leave it all behind. my lot is still here, and i will find her when i come back.

i am also paying homage to vincent vangogh by way of the sky and the sunflowers that line the bottom of the piece. the sunflowers seem out of place at night, much like vincent was out of place, never finding a home. vincent longed for love, companionship and a family of his own, but because of his internal struggles, he wasn’t able to achieve them. the sunflowers are set off from the families, longing to be a part of them. but they can only look on longingly, in the stillness of the night, unable to rest.

so for me, this painting is about being strong enough to postpone my hopes of love and family until i am able to sufficiently develop myself into a person who can properly care for these people i have yet to meet. i would rather endure loneliness than unnecessarily harm those i am supposed to love. ultimately this is an optimistic painting as i am not suffering, but giving myself up to the process.

and of course there is more to the painting than this. hopefully each person who takes the time to really look at it will find their own meanings. there is more in the painting than i intended.

the painting, an overdeveloped lot, continues this story and i will write about that soon.

Artwork Comments

  • Natalie Rodríguez
  • Anni Morris
  • Jonicool
  • mufa
  • BLYTHART
  • helene ruiz
  • PETER JANUS
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait
desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait

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