Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Grove Shaft

I blogged about it before. It's finally finished.

I've been calling it "the big one" for the past several years. Now it has a name.

The Grove Shaft
located in the Midlothian Mines Park
Midlothian, Virginia
oil on canvas

A little history about this stone structure:
The village of Midlothian developed as a coal mining settlement in the 1700’s. Founded by the Woolridge brothers, originally from East Lothian and West Lothian, Scotland, the coal mining company was named Mid-Lothian and became the first commercial coal company in Virginia. Coal was transported to the James River for shipment along a dirt road that is now Midlothian Turnpike.
Later the Chesterfield Railroad was built to aid the coal distribution.

The ruins of several of the coal mining structures can still been seen at the Midlothian Mines Park. Three granite walls of a building that may have housed steam boilers and hoisting equipment above the Grove Shaft remain. The arch at the center of this structure housed the ventilation fan that forced air into the 600-foot deep shaft below. 

I set out to paint the ruins of the Grove Shaft in a manner that depicts its age and history. While it wasn't started in the 1700's, it was begun quite a few years ago. 2008. My senior year at VCU. I work on it once or twice a week for half the semester:

I began using only (1)Titanium White (2) Ultramarine Blue and (3)Burnt Umber. I applied them in their pure forms, let it dry and sanded the canvas, and then mixed to build the painting up to a black, white and gray state, sanding in between layers.
The semester ended and I still didn't know what to do with it -- whether to add color or what to do with the foliage. 

It ended up sitting in a closet at my parents' house until last year. 

I took a nice sanding block to it. Wish I got a photo directly after the sanding.
Then I went for it! COLOR:
(click to enlarge and see the sections that were sanded)

Over the last 6 months or so I've worked intermittently on this painting. A layer or a wash of paint and then several weeks or months of time to let the paint dry before the next time I sand it with sandpaper or apply the next layer of paint.  

Theo didn't quite understand it.

 Then I outlined the stones again with ultramarine blue & burnt umber (deep, almost black, color):
Mark says, hi and are you going to keep working on it?

Painted the "face" of the stones & continued outlining the stones:

Then took the sandpaper to it again:

Close up of the texture. And a ladybug:

Another layer to increase contrast:

And some color washes over the stones:

Theo says, it still needs more work.

More paint, more sanding. I didn't take more photos until it's finished state.
I added more definition to some of the brick areas, added the dead leaves and brush on the ground around the structure, and worked on increasing the contrast of the shadow areas and the the light areas.
The Grove Shaft
oil on canvas

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