Sunday, August 31, 2014

Labor Day Workhorse

"PHL 72 Limelight"
oil on panel, 2013
5" x 7" (12.7cm x 17.78cm)

The Pacific Harbor Line Locomotive's toil away endlessly.
They make the Los Angeles and Long Beach Harbors function.
Without them the harbors would be one big massive clog, nothing would move in or out.

It is another from my latest locomotive series.

I'm not only using this series to experiment and put down paint in different ways but also looking to make each painting unique in some way, never losing sight of capturing the Southern California light I see everyday all year long.

This was one of those glory moments. I was down in the LA Harbor area and spotted this PHL locomotive towing its prize.

I chased it down, caught it just as it switched tracks, raced back around the corner to get a better position and was just in time to catch it backing up as it passed the lime colored fence. The low-angle afternoon light illuminated the lime green fence, literally and figuratively like a limelight, and since (shiny) black is so reflective... well, you can see.

To further enhance that moment and more importantly my impression of it, I painted the light of a thinly veiled marine layer into the painting for a beautiful atmospheric effect. Gentle, soft, low-slung bright light making long shadows.

I rarely paint a locomotive without having a point of view. No, no, no.
I always see first, the painting in all its totality, then one of a locomotive in its environment. It would be short-sited and do no justice to these mules of the harbor to do a mere depiction of it.

They are the true stars of the harbor. Not the huge bloated 'fat cat' cargo ships waiting to be unloaded, not the pretty white cruise ships with all their 'lace and doilies'.
So their moment in the limelight is well deserved.


  1. Hey Buddy! Mmmm! Where do I begin! I know the so beautifully painted fence! I so love the green color used here! I love your art David. It is like an adventure for me! I love to travel all around the surface of the painting while enjoying all the little feast for the eyes surprises! Of course I love the atmosphere here. I am glad you mentioned it in your text! I am constantly overwhelmed that you are able to get so much art on such a small surface! Like all your work David this piece is full of emotion and great movement! So much more! Take care David and of course keep on painting.
    Your Locomotive Workhorse Loving Art Buddy!
    (It just occurred to me that everyone seems to love trains!!! I am so happy you do and you continue to paint them so well!)

  2. Hey Michael,
    The great thing is the fence really is that lime green color and the reflection off the black locomotive was just a sight for the eyes!
    Glad to hear you take the time to really explore the surface. I do the same whole painting these, just love a good loco!.
    The atmosphere we see often, that veiled marine layer, and I love painting it as well. I'm sure you see them too living near the ocean.
    I think you are right, everyone loves trains.
    Thanks and get something up on your blog buddy!
    Your Locomotive Workhorse Loving Art Buddy!
    Keep painting...

  3. How exciting for you to get this special shot David - I know that feeling of the thrill of the chase when it comes to capturing the perfect moment. This is a great painting and you have really captured the locomotive's sense of purpose and derring-do! Wonderful movement, colour and contrail!! Keep on painting those trains - you have made them your own!

  4. P.S. Was I right about the contrail this time too, or am I starting to imagine them?

  5. Hi Wendy,
    Sometimes the thrill of the chase is the fun part isn't it? Sometimes I miss that moment, other times it does not quite make the translation into paint very well. Here everything just fell into place. Love it when that happens.
    Ha! Ha! You are starting to become a contrail connoisseur! I can tell you this, it was originally put in as a contrail. As I often do while painting skies I will push the wet paint on the surface around until I get what I want. So here, the contrail kept getting softer until the point it was almost gone.
    So, the question is, is it a dying contrail or is it a part of the cloud formation? You decide. Either way it is contrailish. ; )