Sometimes I see things hundreds of times before I do a painting of it. I think of it as a visual gestation period. Twenty years ago I would have never considered these fuel tanks as possible subject matter. So what changed? It's hard to say. I think an artist warms up to the environment and an idea slowly emerges. This small study may never be more than it is, but it is a document of yesterday, December 28, 2010.
Just recently I discovered some photos that were taken in the early 1900's of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. The image I used for this painting was taken January 25, 1918. These photos have inspired me to do a series of paintings about what Pittsburgh looked and felt like about 100 years ago. I'm using an extremely limited palette, two or three colors. The idea is to give these photos a new life that can communicate the region's industrial history. But more importantly, this series is about the people that labored to create the world's steel capital.
I did the little 9 x 12 inch study, top, as a demo for my class at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. It worked well enough for me to enlarge the image to a 36 x 48 canvas. The idea for the painting is how some of the neighborhood row houses get demolished and leave a vacant lot. The empty space reminds me of a missing tooth. The houses were built as joined units and you can see there are no windows on the side. The painting isn't finished yet but it shows how the study can be used as a source for a larger, more finished painting.
Cambria County was a winter wonderland last year. It reminded me so much of my childhood. It used to snow from late October until April – that's what it seemed like anyway. I did this painting late last winter when a fresh white blanket covered everything. The scene is near Loretto, PA on what used to be the Schwab Estate. You can't tell from this painting but there is probably three feet of snow on the ground. Shadows from a group of trees on the right created the nice pattern in the foreground and on the roofs.
Full time artist living in Pittsburgh, PA. I've been a gravedigger, chicken catcher, landscaper, graphic designer, museum art installer, college instructor, and now, finally, I'm painting everyday, which is what I've been trying to do all along.