River Road, oil, 18 x 24, 2015
In my last post we were talking about aesthetic conviction. While I find this concept easier to understand when discussing figure or portrait painting, my passion is landscape. I wanted to share some of the thinking that goes into a painting such as River Road.
Why did I paint this: In 1908, two competing railroad companies began laying track on opposite sides of the Deschutes River on a route that ran from the Columbia River to Bend. One was the Oregon Trunk Road, on the west side of the river, the other was the Deschutes Railroad. At several points along the way both needed the same land. Conflicts erupted, including blowing up of supply lines, skirmishes and gun battles, injuries and death. There is currently one working rail track in use today, but the remains of abandoned rail beds are still present and used for recreation. It's a little known element of Oregon's wild west history.
What this painting is about: While I was attracted to the story, this is not a historical painting. The warm winter light, the red and ocher and sage, the reflections on the river are a metaphor for optimism and a sense of adventure in the face of uncertainty. The landscape is the message. It speaks of endurance, and the transience of human experience.
Thank you to Oil Painters of America, for awarding River Road an Honorable Mention in the 2015 Fall On-Line Showcase.