Original New Orleans Art by Debbie Ainsworth

Empty Streets – Where Are the People?

A question I get quite often is, why aren’t there any people in your paintings? Good question. Tough one to answer, but a good question. Where are all the people? Why are there Empty Streets? The most simple answer I can give is this: You, the viewer, are the people in the painting.

New Orleans Christmas Colorful New Orleans House

I like to create urban fantasy cityscapes. They’re not replicas of existing houses, but houses as I’d like them to be. I paint them in the vivid colors I love, fill them with furniture and décor that I’d like to use if I had such a house. This is kind of a realization of house voyeurism that I’ve had as long as I can remember. House voyeurism isn’t about looking at you, but how you’ve decorated your house. Surprisingly enough, I’m not the only one who engages in this practice. A lot of people stand outside attractive houses and wonder what it looks like on the inside. More, they want to see a layout, so they can imagine how they would decorate it.

French Quarter Vintage Clothing New Orleans Cafe Bistro

When you’re looking at one of my No People paintings, you’re actually peeking inside my house voyeurism fantasies. I imagined a house, painted it, then I decorated it! I can’t tell you how satisfying the process is. But, when I’m done, there just doesn’t seem to be any room for people. On the few occasions that I’ve put people inside the houses, they really don’t jump out at you. They’re not dominating the spaces they occupy, rather they’re another decoration like the upright piano or grandfather clock.

Quaint New Orleans Cottage Bright New Orleans Home

As an artist, I really want people to put themselves inside of my paintings. Maybe some intrinsic part of me feels that the only way they can do that is if I don’t put any people in it to block the viewer’s entry. I paint as if I’m the voyeur, standing outside, peeking in. When you look at my painting, you’re taking my place. It’s you looking at the house.  It’s you wondering what it looks like inside. It’s you dreaming about how you’d like to decorate it. It’s you imagining yourself sitting inside, absolutely surrounded by color.

So, Where Are All the People? They’re you. They’re standing beside you. They’re peeking in and imagining. Just like me. And hopefully, just like you.

New Orleans Courtyard Library