At last, I’m ready to reveal the St. Johns Bridge panorama as it stands today.
These panels, 8 of them, each 12 inches wide by 24 inches high, were done on-site, plein air, standing at an easel set up in Cathedral Park in north Portland, on the east side of the Willamette River. The paintings have been somewhat modified in the studio, mostly to synchronize lines and colors a bit more closely, but the modifications were slight enough to meet the standardized notion of plein air work (The accepted rule for calling a work plein air is that at least 80% of the painting should be done on-site).
As you perhaps saw on an earlier blog, I did a lot of the synchronization at Cathedral Park, using a convenient bench to line up the various elements of adjacent panels.
I had actually done photographed these pieces of the bridge, crudely stitching them together to form the panorama. I then attempted in the studio to “block out” the lined up elements on the blank panels so when I started painting at the park, I could jump right into the work without relying on the park bench and hand-held juxtapositions to transition between panels. However, I found that the real view did not resemble the photographed one; this disjuncture between photo and our physical viewing is an old observation of mine, instantly verified when I looked at the photo and then at the physical reality. Gratifying, perhaps, but also the reality nullified my attempts to be more efficient by lining up things in the studio. So the park bench and juggling one panel next to one on the easel became my mode of operation.
A note about the panel numberings: as a matter of standardization, I number my panoramas left to right. However, I will be showing them here right to left. I will do so because, in part, this is how I painted them. But in part, it’s the natural view as one takes it in — first gazing across the river at the striking tower, with its arches and spires and the somewhat fancy concrete base of the roadbed as it moves into the trees and down to highway 30, all this against the heavily foliaged west hills and the industrial matter that lines the hillside beyond the river.
And just to see how they fit together:
I will continue these photos over the next week, first with the individual panels and then showing more and more fully how they fit together. –June