Currently I am working on a large scale commission painting. The collector and I have come up with a great idea of a portland cityscape centering around one of the oldest, and coolest bridges, the Steel Bridge. We wanted to incorporate more than what's actually in view from this vantage point on the east side of the river, looking at the bridge to downtown, and beyond. It is more a panoramic sweeping vision that you can't get unless you turn your head in multiple directions. I thought it would be brilliant to bring it all together in one image that will measure 3 by 6 feet. As you can see I have forced the perspective of just about everything in sight, skewing buildings, enlarging the bridge so it seems more grandiose and powerful, shrinking the cityscape, and bending the Willamette River so we get a view of the Burnside Bridge, and of course the waterfront and skyline.
I moved through a series of pen and ink thumbnails to find the right dynamic, and in the earlier sketches you will see that I haven't yet included all the elements that I spoke about in the above paragraph.
During this stage I am writing notes to myself in the margin about how I would treat the color and application for the final painting, even though I am working with black and white shapes, I am still thinking of the stages to come and visualizing what it will look like in my head. You will notice that at this point I am really dealing with how your eye is going to enter the right side of the painting and onto the bridge. The second one with the train tracks I like but I don't feel I am quite there yet and satisfied with the image.
These last two were the picks of the bunch. Now I just had to decide between seeing the bridge as a super hero, like the first sketch, or try to incorporate more of this panorama idea and distort the perspective. The second one had a little of everything I previously talked about and I decided that was the right direction to go in. As you can see the more the cityscape came into the picture plane, the more I liked the idea of a huge bridge and a small cityscape. The design is a nice contrast of big vs little shapes.
A little larger refined drawing focusing on those same dynamics from the last sketch but with more detail. This is a chance to get to know the subject matter more and firm up the idea, eventually leading to a more solid approach when I switch over to canvas and oils. On to the color color study.
I pushed the color of the Steel Bridge to be more rust colored and warmer to play off the really nice punchy blues of a crisp fall day here in Portland. A nice variety of light and shadow in the buildings off in the distance, that will fade out in the atmosphere while the river bends away from our view.
I built the canvas from ten foot lengths of stretcher bar and have the canvas primed and ready to go.
I will be posting different stages of the painting as I go, so check back for more.