I have been documenting the progress of the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project in Long Beach for over two years in observational landscape paintings. I was motivated by the powerful and complex images in the Port, and the historical significance of this construction. My work has focused on the linear qualities of the landscapes and the geometric shapes. Composition is an important component.
It can be overwhelming. An artist must edit, interpret, isolate, and organize what she sees. The elimination of details is as important as what is included. I look for big shapes and values, try to find the rhythms and push the space. In order to draw many of these structures, I had to observe how they were built and how they work.
A harbor is never still. When I first started drawing at the harbor, I’d look up and back at my drawing and think to myself, how did I get that so wrong? There is more space between those two cranes. And then I realized, the cranes had moved! They raise, lower, and move along tracks. Huge container ships are docked, unloaded, reloaded, and pushed back out to sea by tugboats. Thousands of trucks hook up trailers and the cranes lower containers onto them. Day and night.
I am often struck by the beauty of the Port–it is constantly varied in color and light. Sometimes it reminds me of a giant playground; there are bright reds and blues and greens, oranges and yellows, purple skies and warm or cool greys. The hundreds of thousands of containers look like stacks of building blocks.
It is exhilarating; it is exhausting. It is great fun and hard work. My plan is to take these observational works and from them, paint abstractions and larger images in my studio.