A couple of weeks ago, Kip Bradley was walking the family dog in Baldwin Park, the neighborhood where he has lived for 20 years.
Bradley was suddenly struck by the juxtaposition of a red bungalow and a blue carriage house near the intersection of 40th and East Broad streets. The composition, the light, the shadows, the colors – all the elements stood out.
The scene brought back memories too.
Years ago, the carriage house had been owned by Morgan Santander, a wonderful painter and human being who passed away earlier this year in North Carolina. Like so many of us in Savannah, Bradley had been enriched through his friendship with Santander.
“I probably walked by that house 10 million times,” said Bradley.
Bradley came back the next day to that 40th Street scene with his easel, paints and brushes – and without his dog.
Bradley, who works as the Education Studio Programs Manager at the Telfair Museums, had been painting primarily landscapes for the past five years, but the 40th Street painting was a departure from other recent work.
“I hadn’t spent a lot of time in my own neighborhood,” Bradley told me recently when I caught up with him in the 800 block of East 41st Street as he painted yet another neighborhood scene in a growing series.
“Maybe I’m moving a little slower,” Bradley said of his intense artistic interest in the neighborhood where he has lived for so long.
Like other artists that I have interviewed recently for this column, Bradley noted that time seems to be moving differently than before the pandemic.
And he has relished the chances to spend more hours with his wife and his teenage twin daughters.
Bradley is creating the works with oil on panel, generally 9 inches by 14 inches. He is preventing the colors from getting muddy by using a “tea milk honey” process, with a thin fast-drying first layer, a slightly thicker second layer and then a considerably thicker third layer.
Each painting takes about two hours, but Bradley said that he hoped to whittle the average time to 90 minutes and also to complete two paintings per day occasionally.
Bradley, who has been inspired in part by the still life paintings of Giorgio Morandi, suggested that houses in Savannah are like characters on a stage.
“I don’t see it as being a big seller,” Bradley said with a chuckle when I asked about his plans for the new series.
For now, the neighborhood paintings are about the process itself, as his eyes become more attuned to the color, light and intensity.
“I feel like I learn more and see more every day,” Bradley said.
“For me, it’s about growing.”
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.