"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.