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:
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.
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.