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Central City

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The Sweet Shoppe

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Sweet Shoppe (10 x 13)  $100.00

Sweet Shoppe (10 x 13) $100.00

This is another Central City Painting.  I started it this summer at the Artisan Village at the Oregon State Fair.  But I felt it lacked something and set it aside.   Yesterday when looking for something to paint at the gallery I picked it up again.

What got me started on the painting in the first place is the Victorian decoration.    I brightened the colors to go with the sweet shoppe theme.   The result was interesting, but lacked something.

Yesterday I decided what it needed was more omph, or in other words more contrast.  So I darkened up both the sky and the shadows and here it is.

The palate is cobalt and phthalo blue, quinacridone deep red rose, and cadmium yellow.


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Clouds over Boot Hill

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Clouds Over Boot Hill (9 x 12) $75.00

Clouds Over Boot Hill (9 x 12) $75.00

This is one more painting of the storm clouds gathering above Boot Hill in Central City. In this view the graves are not visible. Like the Dynamite Dome, I painted this one at Art in the Burbs in Tigard, Oregon. The palette and the method are the same.


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Grass in the Window

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Grass in the Window (10 x 14) $225.00

Grass in the Window (10 x 14) $225.00

Most of Central City is so well maintained that period-town would be a better description than ghost-town.   But some of the buildings  have been left to nature for some time.    Grass grows out of a low window in one such wall were two building used to abut each other.

If the wall ever had any mortar, it’s not visible now. The quality of the dry wall construction obviously varied greatly between the two buildings is backed.  On the right hand side the wall is neatly constructed and looks purposeful and solid. On the left hand side the stones are hardly squared at all are stacked more and more erratically the higher the wall gets.   Some stones near the window have fallen away, revealing the depth of the wall.

I began the stones by making an under-painting of phthalo blue.   The under-painting showed the shadows between the stones and some of the stronger shadows in the stones.  Phthalo blue is a great choice for under-painting because it is strongly staining and won’t wash up with successive layers of paint.  After the under-painting dried, I washed the stones wetly with burnt sienna and burnt sienna mixed with rose madder quinacridone. Washes of cerulean blue and phthalo blue mixed with burnt sienna followed. I built up the shadows slowly using the under-painting as a guide. Finally I splattered the rocks with various combination of cerulean blue, burnt sienna and burnt umber using a toothbrush. I smudged the splatters with a paper towel.

The window casing is burnt sienna, cerulean blue, new gamgee, and burnt umber. I applied the paint wet first and then in dry brushed layers.

The grass I masked before beginning the painting. I finished it with greens mixed from new gamgee and phthalo blue. I added the shadows over the window sill last.

I’ve always shied away from building detailed rock and wood like this because I was afraid I couldn’t get the textures right.  But I”m pleased with this and may do some more like it.


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The Dynamite Dome

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The Dynamite Dome (9 x 12) $75.00

The Dynamite Dome (9 x 12) $75.00

This is another view of Central City’s Boot Hill. According to a gift shop owner in town, the odd brick dome was used to store dynamite. The storage dome was built in the graveyard because of the dangerS of storing explosives in town. Nothing about the dome proclaims it’s purpose, and it would be an odd mausoleum so I’m glad the gift shop owner was chatty. Otherwise, we would have gone away wondering.

She went on to tell us that the dome is on the Catholic side of the graveyard because the powers that be in the city were Protestant. The may be, but the Catholic side of the grave yard is both better tended and more populous than the Protestant side. Judging from the names on the stones, the Catholics in the 1800s were primarily Irish with a sprinkling of Slavs and Spanish miners. The other Boot Hill views I have have posted here have also been from the Catholic side. The monument I painted in Victorian Deadwood is from the Protestant side, but there are many more like it on the Catholic side.

I did this painting at a craft fair in Tigard last weekend along with a few more landscapes which I’ll post over the next few days.

The palette is cerulean blue, Prussian blue, cobalt blue, phthalo blue, new gamgee (yellow) and burnt sienna. I used cerulean for the sky and Prussian blue grayed with burnt sienna to define the clouds. I mixed all of the blues with new gamgee to create the greens for cemetery and hills. The dome itself is burnt sienna.


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Victorian Deadwood

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Victorian Deadwood (8 x 10)  $75.00

Victorian Deadwood (8 x 10) $75.00

This is another painting from the cemetery above Central City, Colorado.  Most of the graves there date from the Victorian era.  This is typical of the monuments.  They were cast concrete rather than stone and carved to look like wood and stone.  The “wood” portions sometimes look like rustic logs and sometimes more like vines creeping on the stone.  Could they have had rose or grape covered bowers in mind?

But whatever the intent, to my mind the monuments are so ugly as to be strangely compelling.  The are overly complex and intricate yet striving for rusticness.  The more I look at them, the more I wonder what they were thinking and what if anything the fake wood roofs and beams meant to them.

The palatte here is cerlulean blue and burnt sienna for the sky.  The monunent is raw sienna and cerulean blue on the lighted portions and burnt sienna and Prussian blue on the shadowed sides.  The foliage is cerulean, cobalt and Prussian blues mixed in various combinations with raw sienna, new gamgee, and burt sienna.


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Before the Afternoon Rain

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Before the Afternoon Rain (9 x 12) $100.00

Before the Afternoon Rain (9 x 12) $100.00

This is the Catholic side of Boot Hill above Central City, Colorado. The grave yard is in a park, a geological park that is, i.e. a high mountain flat open meadow. Most of the graves are old and overgrown and the plots appear to be spotted haphazardly across the field. Here and there are tended plots and even occasionally a new grave. But most of the graves date from the 1800s. Wild roses, daffodils, and onions mingle (the mountain ghost-town survivors) mingle with wildflowers and grasses.

I liked the way the coming afternoon storm lit up some parts of the graveyard but left others in shadow. I also loved the sky itself.

I planned the painting to be three quarters sky. I painted the sky first wet on wet mostly in Prussian blue grayed down with burn sienna. Prussian blue is perfect for storm clouds the color is almost perfect and it spreads out nicely into water. After I finished the sky, I began the hills and the mountain ridge in yellow ochre mixed with phthalo blue, cobalt blue and Prussian blue. But I got carried away with trees and painted them higher up into the sky than I’d intended. I thought briefly about cutting off the bottom part of the grass but decided against because the gravestones so clearly belong in the mid and background. I like it, but I’m tempted to do it over again and really emphasize the sky this time.


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Which Century?

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Which Century (11 x 13) $125.00

Which Century (11 x 13) $125.00

We recently visited Central City, Colorado.  Like many “ghost towns” across the country, tourism has kept the once bustling mining town alive.  When I was girl the historic downtown was wall to wall novelty and gift shops broken only by cheap restaurants.  Tourist straggled up and down the steep streets buying post cards of jackalopes, shiny cedar boxes and souvenir spoons.

Most of the novelty shops are gone now. Casinos dominate the downtown now. The streets are quiet because the tourists are mostly inside the casinos gambling. But unlike in the 1800s the gamblers are senior citizens bused in rather than rough neck miners. I find it an ironic return to the past. But I liked the bustling streets better.

I still like the old downtown, and I took many pictures for future paintings. This one is of the Coyote Creek Casino and the Century building. My question is which century, the 19th, the 20th or the 21st? All three centuries are mingled in the Victorian building with 20th century signs and air-conditioning, and 21st century computers.

The light cast lovely shadows on the century building, but the bright light flattened the casino. After some thought, I added some shadow to the casino. I think it works a little better particularly on the upper story.


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