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.

No comments:

Post a Comment