Friday, August 27, 2010

Crushed By The Sun

"Warehouse Rooftop (w/ Palm)"
oil on panel, 2010
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.78cm)

A sky so bright it hurts your eyes. A blazing hot day, a hazy horizon. Looking towards the sun, the vertical planes are nearly all silhouette. Only the horizontal planes show.

Even the industrial, the subject itself, as hardy as it is... may very well be subordinate sometimes. Our associations with dark tones may represent strength, power, weight, but here they're crushed by the sun, the warehouse pressed below the horizon, into the earth by the heat of the summer, that unforgiving heat.
It's the bright, nearly white sky that dominates, despite the anchored darks.68
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Monday, August 23, 2010

New Gallery

NEW GALLERY-I have two paintings at Horizon Fine Art Gallery in Jackson Hole Wyoming.

"Retired Power Plant" and "Storage Yard Nocturne" Click on titles to see original posts.

For purchase contact Barbara Nowak at , email : HORIZONFINEART@WYOMING.COM

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Liquid Shadow

"Tree Nocturne (Leaning Wall)"    SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
5" x 4" (12.7cm x 10.16cm)

This nocturne is based on several locations, so composed from memory. I always enjoy working this way for it's own unique challenges.

First, I was struck by something, some quality, when I initially saw it (or them, when more than one location). And that serves as my primary inspiration.

Second, I must decide what to include and what to leave out from each.

Third, I have to decide a view point since I may have seen the original location(s) from a completely different one.

There are other considerations like value scale, color palette, edge control etc., but without the first three, I can't begin.

In this painting my primary inspiration was the overhanging, overbearing tree and it's shadow pouring down the wall and into the street like a high viscosity ink. I went back to re-view that location later and the tree had been cut down, but that image was still etched in my brain.

Although there was a wall at that location this one was taken more or less from another for it's pilasters. The rest, a compilation of memories... the narrow single slab sidewalk from an older neighborhood, before easements... the street sign, newer but oddly placed... the leaning, rough textured, poured concrete wall.
The challenge from memory isn't as much what to leave out (like photo reference), it's what to include. I like sparse, but as I have said before, that can be a shaky line to walk. With view point worked out the 'make or break' now lies with the other considerations; value, color, edges etc.

With the shadow being the main feature, I scrubbed the lighter values in around it, which also provides texture and softer edges for a deep core, the blue giving life to the darks.
The 'No Parking' sign, although central to the composition, really is second reading. You see first the shadow, then follow the diagonals to the sign, where the lightest values lie.67

Click on image for larger view

*Update - previous post original value thumbnail here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


"Harbor Line #50 (Catalina Pacific Concrete)"  SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
3½" x 5" (8.89cm x 12.7cm)

Two posts ago I featured one of the newer locomotives that works the LA Harbor. Here I painted one of the older ones, being replaced as it has become outdated, but currently still running the tracks.

You can see the primary difference between the two generations... this one has solid red ends which don't identify front from rear like the dramatic angled stripes of it's successor. It's also longer, the new being shorter, stouter and probably more powerful even as a low emission model. I'm sure a matter of technological efficiency.

However, it's length gives it the grace of a limousine, elongated without looking gangly. But still powerful looking with it's boxy square front end. Always the workhorse, just a different breed.

It's seen here against part of the old shut down Catalina Pacific Concrete plant from my post 'The Dying Day', a hint of melancholy as it moves away from the sun and into the plants shadow for eventual retirement.

It is well used. No longer shiny, missing vents at the rear, scratches like well earned scars from years of service. But surprisingly, it did not look run down, it seemed to have a lot of life left in it, if not outmoded for greener technology.66
Click on image for larger view

Friday, August 13, 2010

Harbor Colors

"Sunken Dock, Cranes (w/Bird)"   SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)

I was lamenting awhile back that mother nature was holding back spring in favor of an extended winter. Now she still has spring or at least spring like weather on the table. Our 4th of July was only warm, not hot, with a rather cool evening. We have not seen any real hot, blistering summer days and nights yet. So, with that, here is another spring painting.

The harbor, looking east, a bank of rain clouds. This is a common site in Los Angeles this time of year (early spring). The weather will move off shore and along the mountains, leaving the LA basin to the sun, a sort of hole with no weather, much like the eye of a hurricane. This does lead to some dramatic backdrops and here it provided a deep cool gray for the brightly lit red cranes.

These are the colors of the harbor. The equipment... whites, reds, blues, greens, yellows, oranges, some bright, some pale. Docks and piers... earthy siennas, oxidized gray browns, dark wet chocolate browns. The organic... green waters, ochre dirt, various shades of gray and tan in jetties and rocks.

This is another palette I like. Saturated color, but deep, still weighty, with bright accents. A good mix of artificial and natural earthy color. Man made and nature together.

Bright days don't necessarily have to be depicted in high key (lighter) values. If done right, middle and even low key values will represent a bright day.

The only light values here lie in a thin horizontal strip at the base of the cranes... sunlit whites, blues and yellow. The color saturation too, aids in depicting a sunny day and distant atmospheric conditions... wet air.65
Click on image for larger view

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Beast of Burden

"Harbor Line #61 (Dusk w/ Engineer)"    SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
6" x 8" (15.24cm x 20.32cm)

Back to a favorite subject, the locomotive. This one part of the Pacific Harbor Line, the workhorses of the LA Harbor. They give the Union Pacific, BNSF and others a rest as they move and stage the trains throughout the harbor, receiving and preparing them for departure. I'm sure they perform all kinds of other tasks as well.

Here is a newer one, part of the low emission line of locomotives for the move towards a greener port. Black and shiny as tar with striking graphics, they don't blend in, they stand out. Not graceful looking, they look like they mean business. The back end diagonals point down, the front point up to distinguish front from rear when seen head on. It's side panel graphics angling forward. So a nod of beautiful work to the designers of these burly beasts of burden.

I caught the #61 heading into the port at dusk, one of the engineer's pausing to reflect their day perhaps... or maybe just beginning their night shift, who knows.
Contrast. It's the dark bluish blacks against the yellow twilight sky that so perfectly spoke of the subject and it's 24 hr calling. As the day ends the locomotive is still going strong, never tired, a reflected light illuminating it's shadow side. The marine layer creeping in to settle over the port.

Finally, I eliminated all the extraneous foreground and background clutter in favor of a rather banal setting, putting further emphasis on the 'horse' itself.64
Click on image for larger view

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ghostly Structure

"Oil Plant Backside (w/ Storage Tanks)"   SOLD
oil on panel, 2010
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.78cm)

Featured in Crussell Fine Art 2011 International Survey Periodical

Here again the oil plant, (previous images under post headings 'Aging Relic' and 'Bleached White Sky' ).
A fabulous view from the back with it's white storage tanks being gradually overrun by rust, taking on a patina of colors ranging from burnt sienna to deep copper to a rich chocolate, the whitewashed wood cladding showing itself in grays, blues and greens. A palette I love.

Seen in the late afternoon, the sun reveals the ghostly structure, the top wisped in shadow. It's age apparent by the holes, missing and leaning sections, rust, stained wood and foreground growth. All contrasted against the newer power pole, it's wires, bypassing the older oil plant.

Painted with precision while allowing hints of a 'shaky hand' here and there to remind of it's delicate state. Presented from a distance but tightly cropped. A subject still robust but unsentimental. It's purpose having been served.63
Click on image for larger view

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Update-Previous Post

*I've posted a photo of the framed art "Study for 'Villa Riviera Wrapped for Restoration' " under the post heading ' Inky Black ' in the May archives.