A Painting for the Decade
I just finished a work on MS Paint. This was one that I wanted to say something about this decade, the 2010s, before it ended. It was a period that marked the full transition of Generation Y into adulthood and post-collegiate life. It was also, therefore, a period in which millennials found themselves forced to grapple with the outcomes of the preceding decades: low wages, high costs of living, and record wealth inequality. As such, the painting is titled The 2010s (Age of Millennial Housing).
I also debated using Age of Small Pleasures as a second title.
The painting is, in part, informed by a conversation I had with a store manager recently, a man slightly older than I. He reflected on how financially difficult his life is, that he lives paycheck to paycheck, apparently one setback away from disaster. He talked about how hard life had been to get where he is now, and even then it was not great. It seemed very counter-intuitive to me, that a man in such a position of responsibility (hardly an entry-level position) still struggled.
Of course, the painting is also informed by my own struggles. I spent about half this year homeless, a first for me, and my own homelessness was a result of how much reality differed from what I was told to expect during my years of education. I have, in essence, had to spend my 20s learning what I should have been taught in my teens.
I have heard similar stories from my peers this decade: people battling homelessness, workers with post-graduate degrees stuck in entry-level professions, an inability to provide children with their medical needs. Thus, the painting is a statement on life for my generation, wherein a decorated manager in his company nevertheless must live out of his car or camp in the woods. These burdens notwithstanding, he is resilient, smiling as he enjoys a Dr Pepper and takes in the spectacle of a clear, night sky.
Like most of my work, the piece borrows heavily from Impressionist tradition. On Microsoft Paint, I used only the pencil tool at its largest width, in order to create those sharp, broad strokes. Utilizing a limited pallet (only about two shades per object), I created a stark contrast between the light and dark shades, in order to help the effect of dark scene before a fire and to exploit the vivid effect of it being a digital work.
I hope to create another piece for the end of the 2020s. I also hope that, by that point, we will have overcome the challenges of the day, so that I can paint something more pleasant.