Monday, June 20, 2011

1 Year Anniversary!

As hard as it is to believe, this blog is now one year old!   I still have no idea how long it will take me to complete this challenge but I feel like I'm making good progress.  When I started, I had only about 8-10 counties done so I've more than doubled that in a year.  Not earth shattering I know I'm happy with that production rate for now.  Thanks to everyone who follows and reads this blog.  I appreciate it and, of course, love to hear feedback!  Happy Birthday Painting Arkansas blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Jefferson County Courthouse, Pine Bluff, Jefferson Co

Jefferson County Courthouse
11X14, Oil on Birch Panel

Last weekend I went down to Pine Bluff to paint what I think may be the most striking courthouse in Arkansas.    The Jefferson County courthouse is this marvelous white with a glowing golden painted dome.   While not the most ornate courthouse in the state, it certainly does stand out.  It was built in 1856 and partially burned in the '70's.  I had never been to Pine Bluff before last Saturday.  It is a small town with big city problems and the reputation of the town is well known.  I found a downtown deserted on a Saturday morning.  Almost no business was open and the traffic count on Barraque Street, what should be a fairly major street in downtown, was probably no more than 30 cars the whole time I was there.  Several passed by me more than once.  Only one person came by to talk to me and I only saw one other person on foot.

I set up in the shadow of a building across the street from the courthouse, knowing the blazing hot sun would soon rear up over the top of the roofline and bath me.  I had been hoping to catch the building fully backlit so I could explore some more color in the sky but by the time I got there, the sun was already high enough that no cool sky colors were to be found.  You might could call this a modified Sargent palette.  I used Cobalt blue, yellow ochre, and transparent red oxide which I consider to be in essence the same as what Sargent used for a lot of his architectural work.  He probably used ivory black which can appear very blue when tinted and used alongside warmer colors. 

I struggled mightily with size and perspective in this one.  The color of the shadowed white building also gave me fits.  I should have done it from the eastern side so as to avoid that problem but it's always good to take on a challenge.  There were several moments when I almost gave up on it.

After I had had enough of this one, I wandered about the streets for a while, taking photos.  It was enough to rend the preservationist soul of me.  I could clearly see what the town of Pine Bluff had been and what it still could be.  But the fact I could stand in the middle of Main Street for minutes on end trying to find the best vantage point possible on a Saturday morning spoke volumes for how far this town has fallen. 

As is all too often the case with me, I fell in love with what I could see the town becoming.  I know I'll be back.