Monday, May 5, 2008

Jewels in the Junkyard


Seen Better Days II
12" X 9" Oil on Masonite Panel

I wrote earlier (April 3) about an area on the South Portland waterfront that was possessed of several derelict buildings but also, ironically, served as a marina for very expensive sailboats. I mused that if I could get into the area, there might be some interesting compositions showing contrasts between the buildings and the sleek sailing vessels. Well, I did, and there were.
One sunny afternoon I gave it a try. Armed with camera and notepad, I drove over. The place is fenced all around, but on the street side of one of the buildings there was a stairway up to a door marked "office." No one was there. I went down to one of the gates and made some noise which only aroused a very large and apparently pugnacious German Shepard. I quickly moved away to another spot and I saw a friend working on his boat inside the fence (a modest 43' ketch)and called to him to let me in. He found the guy in charge who went by the name "Cap'n," a crusty Mainer who didn't look like he belonged on land. The dog was with him, but with Cap'n's apparent endorsement, he (the dog)was suddenly my new best friend. All the while I was in there, the dog stayed with me as if to make sure that I didn't run afoul of the many hazards everywhere.
My first inspiration came not from a contrasting scene, but from one of the buildings (painting above). It looked like it was teetering on its pins and ready to collapse any moment. I did the sketch in about ten minutes and it looked pretty good so I finished it. I left some stuff out as the building had so much to it, I didn't want too much detail. There was a rickety bridge over a ditch and I left that in for focus and scale. It also suggests a risky access. I like this!
Next came a really nice contrasting scene:


Aspasian Contrasts
20" X 16" Oil on Canvas

These three boats are all lined up in a row across from a clearly uninhabitable structure, plastered with forbidding signs. The problem with this when I was painting it was that I got over involved with the building and it over powered the boats. I tried to reshift the focus with strong highlights behind the boats and exaggerated shadows. I think it succeeds, at least in capturing the kind of contrast I was looking for.
Then I came upon an irresitible "portrait," this sailboat sitting in solitary splender in the sun--a real jewel. I'm learning to paint boats with their compound curves and exaggerated perspective, so I had to give this a try. I did a small piece--it was hard enough-and I'm OK with it, thinking about some things I will do better next time.

The Classic
10" X 8" Oil on Linen Panel

The name of the marina is "Aspasia." I looked it up and all I could find was that it was the name of a woman of Greek mythology, a consort of Perseus, and owner of a brothel! I'll have to pursue that one with Cap'n. He told me that the area is an historic preservation protected property, but no one can afford to preserve the buildings. As such he can't improve the property himself. In my opinion it's beyond repair, so maybe time will give Cap'n his chance (if he lives long enough). Anyway, I feel as if I got there in the nick of time.

23 comments:

Amy said...

Jack, what a fabulous paint day !
these turned out wonderful. it must have felt so good at the end of the day, all that you learned, art & history. amy

Barbara Pask said...

Hi Jack, I like all of these but the last one, wow. The reflections in the hull of the boat are perfect. I envy you with all of the great scenery around you. Barb

Paz said...

Very nice portraits. The house on the top may have seen better days, but it still looks like it has character. ;-)

Paz

Jack Riddle said...

Amy, Barb, Paz--Thanks for the nice reaction to this somewhat unusual presentation. Amy--it sure did feel wonderful that day. My first try was the derelict building and it came so easily, I knew I was on to something.
Barb--Yes, the reflectionscertainly added something to the vessel--sleek and "shiny."
Paz--I think the house was on the verge of collapse and I think I caught it like showing a wave just before it breaks. I checked it out this AM and it's still there. One more nor'easter should do it!

Frank Gardner said...

Really like this set Jack. The story that goes with them is great too. I almost feel like I was there with you.
Great character in the old building.

Amy said...

Jack , I think my heart skipped a beat , when I saw that it was you who had left a comment. Thank you, for your visit. This whole blog & internetness is still very new to me. But, I must say , that I think it is wonderful, but a bit over whelming at times. So much to see & learn. : ) amy

Paz said...

Ohhh! I hope it doesn't collapse. There's something about it from your painting that I like.

Paz

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

The paintings are very nice and its really enjoyable the way you tell us how you set them up and the difficulties you had. In fact, that is what keeps me coming back here to check on you...your way with words. You are an excellent story teller.

I also enjoyed reading about your experiences while in NYC.

Jack Riddle said...

Frank--thanks--if you come here sometime, I'll show you all the sights. Thanks for your good thoughts...

Jack Riddle said...

Amy--I'm a newbie to this world, too, but the more I do, the more visits I make to other blogs, the more I get back in the form of information and support. So,it will come, be patient.
Vee--thanks for the comment on my writing. Full disclosure: I have off and on been an advertising copywriter. In fact I spent the last few years of my career writing 30 minute infomercials for health products for radio and TV! So maybe I have an advantage, but I find most artist bloggers are pretty good writers. Anyway, I'll keep 'em coming!

rob ijbema said...

thanks for taking me there jack,great story and wonderful paintings,i like the house falling apart,excellent (wonky) lead in with the railing.
the sky with the three boats is superb,so vibrant.

Jack Riddle said...

Rob--thanks and your recent work is looking good, too. It must be the spring--and boy, it looks beautiful there.

Ambera said...

Wow I love the top one! So much character!

Jack Riddle said...

Ambera--good to hear from you again and I love your own recent posts. Stay in touch, and thanks.

FCP said...

Hi Jack,
You did a great job with these. I can feel the fresh spring day in how you handled the light. I especially love how you handled the last one--those reflections on the boat are very well done.
Faye

Jack Riddle said...

Faye--thanks for visiting. I really like your posts a la Kevin MacPherson. I have been much influenced by his book which was recommended to me by Frank Gardner. I go back to it a lot and I will do the same with your blog. I hope my more recent work reflects this study.

David Lobenberg said...

You are handy with words too, Jack. "The Classic" is my favorite. I love those bright reflections contrasting with the shadow side of the boat. Also the contours of the sail boats in this one and the preceding one are very naturalistic.

David Lobenberg said...

OK...one more comment. I think you should put on an old torn shirt with oil paint all over it and, maybe a few oil smudges on your face and look like an artist instead of an accountant. I hope you have a sense of humor and we both know that you'll do whatever you damn well want...it's your blog!

Jack Riddle said...

David--You're probably right. I was never an accountant, nor a Brad Pitt either. I'll see if I can find a more characteristic pix for my vast public. Thanks for your comments-appreciate your visit. Jack

benjatoon studio said...

good job! and nice blog! Benjamin:)

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Wow. Slammin' paintings Jack! The compositions rock and the drawing is right on!
I think we should have a Bloggers Paint Out and get a gallery to show our collective efforts.

Jack Riddle said...

Mary--fantastic idea! How would one go about it?

Jack Riddle said...

Ben--thanks for the visit. I urge my fellow bloggers to visit your fascinating site. Jack