Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The old Pitt Street Bridge

   I've begun to settle into a groove again with my work. Our routine of getting the kids off to school is getting more familiar, and it usually leaves me with most of the morning to draw or paint. I'm starting to gravitate to certain motifs since I've been here...wood (the oak trees), stone (the patio drawings), and these paintings with water. I did these at a spot about 5 minutes from our house, at the old Pitt Street bridge.  It's a long causeway that used to connect Mt. Pleasant (where we live) to Sullivan's Island (the beach), via a train, long ago. The train no longer operates, and it no longer connects the two land masses, but it is a really beautiful spot, where I like to go fishing, crabbing and watch the sunset.

11" x 16.5"
   I knew I wanted to do some paintings here, but I wanted to avoid the typical, sentimental maritime scene. The landscape here is so different from New York; it's flat, atmospheric, and well,...beachy. This four-posted marker caught my attention. I guess I need some structure to ground me, and I found it in this platform rising over the water. I like the fact that it continues with some of the previous motifs I had been working with, like the wood pile paintings from Asheville and the drawings of the pavers in our backyard. There's something about this ladder rising out of murky water that resonates with me...perhaps it's the religious implications.  Also, one night while watching the sun set behind downtown Charleston, I enjoyed seeing a large group of kids climb to the top of this platform (the bolder ones to the top of the tower, about 20 feet above the water) and jumping off into the water. The parents were there egging them on from a nearby boat, and being that it was high tide, they had enough water below them to keep from hitting bottom. It was such a joyous site, seeing those kids having so much fun...it's the kind of thing you can only do as a child, with an equal mix of fear and rapture.

13" x 19.5"
   I like the patterns that the posts and reflections make in the water; a cat's cradle of positive and negative forms. There's also something quite garish, yet beautiful, about the color of the treated wood sitting in that murky water...it brought back memories of the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn.
   The one thing I was reminded of while doing these, is how tricky water is to paint. Not only is the appearance subject to the shifting light and wind, but the tide becomes a factor, too. Over the course of a painting session, the water level would either ascend or descend those posts.  I had to rework the water level every time I painted, which was over 3 or 4 different days...it basically forces the issue of keeping the painting loose and fresh.

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