I started this painting 5 years ago, I have never really painted a landscape in oils before this was my first.
The idea was to create something like a Jeffery Smart, Edward hopper or a Tony Peters…I wanted to see if I could paint like a landscape like those artists do. I wasn’t interested in painting somewhere ‘nice’ or ‘beautiful’ I wanted an abandoned place a place nobody cares about…a place that is silent but dominated by man.
It is a iron built bridge spanning over a railway line that leads to a coal terminal near the old BHP works in Newcastle, it handles car traffic going over and underneath is usually coal trains going in and out every day and night 24 hours 7 days a week.
The bridge itself is very old, it looks like it was built in the 1940’s or even earlier. There is scattered garbage and weeds everywhere…nobody really goes on the road that goes underneath, not very often. When I took the photos the cars that came by looked at me like I was selling drugs or up to no good. It is that kind of place.
The painting wasn’t technically hard, it could realistically be completed in one or two weeks by a good painter, yet I struggled and was at pains with it. I left it untouched for so long just because I got caught on certain aspects and had no idea how to solve it. Painting never feels like a ‘hobby’ for me.
I started by painting a piece of Masonite with a couple of layers of white backing paint let it dry then rubbed in red oil to bring out red highlights while painting (that’s why the first panel is red) It was a trick that I found in an oil painting guide.
I traced out my image from a photo, in charcoal then started to paint it in very lightly using lots of turps and just black, that first bit is always the fastest. I was constantly thinking what it could ‘mean’ I totally overthought the whole process.I painted and repainted whole sections, scrubbed out and redid parts over and over. Yesterday my wife asked me if I would ever finish it, it occurred to me then something that was supposed to be fun was turning out to be a symbolic burden of my life. Countless friends and relatives had asked when I would finish it over the years.
The truth is I really struggled, maybe next painting will be easier. I am sort of happy with it..I am not sure what it means or what it is exactly to anyone.
But I completed it..that’s what is important.