After a long time, I pulled this piece out from the file to see if I can bring it to completion. It seemed too constrained in feeling and empty. The entire shadowed-house region just seemed devoid of life and stuck on as an after-thought. Something needed to flow and give depth to the scene without breaking its slightly-off melancholy. I realized I needed to stop treating the pencil drawing as so precious and just go ahead and paint over it in a messier way, to build some age to the walls, some fractals to the stones and sky.
Noting how much bold lines add to an otherwise perfectly self-conscious form building in my images of trees, I realized that the armature of unfinished buildings that populates Peruvian cityscapes is a perfect candidate for such lines. And to have an etherial sort of plastic bag stuck on the armature, catching wind, like a trashy flag of our times -- I thought that would give that empty region of the picture some breath.
The piece is still far from finished. Unlike observational works that are complete when they are complete, this sort of unearthing of a personal (and far from emotionally dramatic) vocabulary is proving to be an indefinite process. I have some ideas of where to take this next, but it's all sort of amorphous. And there is no turning back: much of the painstaking pencil work is bound to be destroyed. That difficulty alone (I was stupid to combine these materials) made me realize a much better approach would have been a lithograph with color watercolor washes. That is really the look I had in mind, but it took some research to find out that it even exists. For now though I will take this where it wants to go, and certainly away from the awkward pallet. The sky needs more emptiness, the house more context, the bag less pink.