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This is the first finished House Ghost. Let me know if you’d like one.

House Ghost, oil on board, Michael Chambers

Notes from Afar

I’m writing this update in May 2022, eight years after this painting was finished. That original house ghost arrived in my studio on May 16, 2014. It was a typical day, as I recall, and I had just started a new painting. As usual, I started with no idea of what I wanted to create, I just wanted to make something. So I brushed some of my favorite Vasari red into the middle of a canvas board. The red strokes soon formed into a vague figure-ish shape, I added a rough background and framed the figure in a doorway. I’d been painting doorways for years by this point, so that seemed pretty natural.

I struggled a bit, as I do on most of my paintings. I tried a whole bunch of variations on the stance of the figure.* Eventually the painting was finished and it only lacked a name. If I happen to be in the midst of a novel or a show or if the person in the painting reminds me of someone, I borrow their name for the painting’s title. In this case all that came to mind was how this figure had emerged. I thought of how ghosts, if there are such a thing, might appear like that.

House, ghost, guest, houseguest… house ghost!

These words ran through my head. Houseghost has a nice ring to it, I thought. And, like my paintings, there’s enough NOT known about them they seemed a natural fit for me. Because, like ghosts, my paintings typically emerge slowly, they haunt me for a day or three or twenty-three until they suddenly freeze in their tracks, say boo and — eventually — disappear.


Perhaps there’s no better illustration of my method than this. I try and try and try again to get it right, then — either by accident or skill — I stop painting when it works!

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