Monday, June 30, 2008

Come, Take a Walk With Me-Part II

Rock Climbers
Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

It was March 21 when I did Part I of this series. It was still winter then, so things have changed to say the least.
That blog ended at the northerly end of the beach we have a couple of blocks from here called Willard Beach. So now I start at that end of the beach on a trail that runs above it. The structure you see is a remnant of Fort Preble which was built during the Civil War to protect Portland harbor from the British, who you'll recall, sided with the Confederates. The openings for cannons are still there as are portions of gun mounts which were added later during WW II. This end of the old wall has long since crumbled, the result of the many storms that rage through here now and then. What's left is a jumble of rocks which blend with this rocky portion of the beach and provide a temptation for the intrepid and/or foolish who think they can climb their way into the old fort without going up on the trail and around as I am doing here. I must confess that I climb the rocks occasionally, too, but they can only be accessed at low tide and then you have to wait a couple of hours for them to dry off. Otherwise, they are impossibly slippery.
But even following on the trail you have to climb up a set of stairs over a long abandoned bunker where this view awaits you:

Spring Point Light from Ft. Preble Overlook
Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

This is the first of two lighthouses that guide the mariner into Portland Harbor. It is a big metal "drum" and is the only one of the two that still functions (though ceremoniously, I suspect). It originally stood in the water, but later a long jetty was built for fishermen and visitors to the light. It is a l-o-o-ong way out and I tried to show that with the figures. I go out there often as there are nice breezes in the summer and it brings you very close to the big tankers and cruise ships that come into the harbor. In the foreground is a continuation of the old fort as seen in the first picture. I like the way it seems to zig-zag to the lighthouse. In the distance on the left is another old civil war fort called Fort Gorges, pronounced "gorgeous" for some reason. I also show some islands in Casco Bay including Little Diamond to the right rear. It helped to put in some foreground grass, I think, again for scale.
Moving on, I walk through a massive marina, an area with condos and then a tanker docking area which is used by 1000' tankers to unload oil to a pipeline that serves much of northern New England and parts of southern Canada. The marina has interested me when it is empty (see my painting "Sticking It Out"--Feb. 21, 2009)which it isn't now with literally 100s of sailboats and pleasure crafts at dockage there. I haven't gotten much inspiration out of the tanker area yet as they aren't very pretty! Some time I'll look at it all as an artist and see what I can do with these as subjects.
Now we come upon the second lighthouse which guides the final turn into the harbor.

Bug Light
Oil on Canvas 20" X 16"

It is called Bug Light, again, I don't know why, and is the focal pont of a nice park area that was developed by the town of South Portland and some wealthy benefactors out of a former industrial area. This is a great kite flying area, again with the breezes,and the light marks the beginning of the Eastern Trail which will eventually reach to Key West. This time of year I bike all of this and more and in the winter I walk about four miles of the beach and these areas every day that I can. Bug Light can be fearsome in the winter when it is zero or below with howling winds that drive you insane.
I should also tell you that most of the area I cover here was a huge ship building complex in WWII which produced something like 300 so-called Liberty Ships of which I believe there remains but one survivor. The ship business died out after the war, of course and it took a long time for this land to become "civilized." And now I feel fortunate to live in an area that provides so much interest to both the man and the artist.


Frank Gardner said...

I thoroughly enjoyed another walk with you Jack.
You are getting a lot of paintings done.

What I notice right away in all of these is you use of details in the foreground contrasting with a simpler background to show distance. Also the placement of figures to show the same. Larger ones near smaller ones to show distance.
Good work.

Amy Sullivan said...

Hi Jack, it is all so beautiful.
You do indeed have alot of beauty to work with as an artist here.
I know I would love living in Main. I have never been there, but, someday, I at least hope to visit.And eat lots of lobster, :0)

Barbara Pask said...

Hi Jack, Where have you been? Hope things are well with you.
By the way...I have awarded you the Brillante Weblog award - you can read the info on my blog. You can pass it on or not, your choice. I figured this was just a nice way to let you know I appreciate your work.

Jack Riddle said...

Barbara and blog friends--I have been up to my eyeballs with my opera project here in Maine and have really had a tough time finding "quiet" periods to paint and blog. All of that is subsiding now and things should be back to normal for awhile. In late September we leave for two months in San Miguel Mexico where I will paint up a storm, hoping to get together with Frank Gardner occasionally and painting on my own and with others down there. As you already know, one can learn a lot with Frank and I hope to come back a better painter--as has always been the case in the past. I will blog from there as well.
Then in April, 2009, we go to China! More later...
Barb--will check out your site to see what you've done and will respond accordingly. Thanks in advance. Jack

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

I enjoyed reading your stories, and viewing your paintings. Can't wait to read about your travels, Jack.