Eastside Plating Works, Plant 5 (The Paintings)

More than a month ago, I said I was almost finished with Plant 5. Well, time is as relative as other attributes of our world, so “almost” is tallied as a month’s further tweaking.

Below are images of the final work. The titles and comments are meant to please all: Jan shouldn’t read them or the comments below the paintings. Those who want factual info may read the pre-colon material but avoid the final comments. Those who crave more info may go for the post-colon text as well as my maunderings about the process and the place.

All the paintings are 30 x 40″, and while they are not strictly meant as a panorama, I have included one view of the five of them together.

JOU, Eastside Plating Works Plant 5, number 1: Monday elevenish, 40 x 30″, oil on canvas, 2012


JOU, Eastside Plating Works Plant 5 number 2: Tuesday 5PM , 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2012


JOU, Eastside Plating Works Plant 5, number 3: Wednesday, noon, 40 x 30″, oil on canvas, 2012


JOU, Eastside Plating Works Plant 5, number 4: Sunday Morning, 30 x 40″, oil on canvas, 2012


JOU, Eastside Plating Works Plant 5, number 5: Friday 3:30PM, 40 x 30″, oil on canvas, 2012


JOU, Eastside Plating Works, Plant 5, various sizes, oil on canvas, 2012

These paintings were part of a 3-month stint sponsored by Portland Store Fixtures, (110 SE Main Street). Plant 5 occupies the northern half of the 200 block, just east of the Store Fixtures warehouses on SE Main. It consists of 5-7 buildings, arranged in a deep semi-circle, the interior shape partly dictated by a former railroad siding that once ran diagonally through the space. Now, trucks enter into the semi-circle to deliver and pick up materials; workers park their cars there. The interior of the semi-circle has mysterious industrial artifacts, like the prominent funnel in Number 3.

I painted on-site studies of these scenes during a warm spell in January and February, took innumerable reference photos, and did the large paintings in the studio for the remainder of the winter and spring, returning to Plant 5 when I needed more information.

I like to paint my surrounds, over time, providing the viewer with what normally busy people don’t have time to observe. Jer says I make things more beautiful than they are; I say, he just wasn’t there when I was. –June

And Ran Ortner, a painter of huge seascapes, says in an interview in The Sun, June 2012, “I did not want the distance or the conceit that devices like irony evoke. I decided I would attempt a kind of tightrope act. I would paint straight — in a realistic manner — but I would attempt to be inventive with my perspective and the quality of immersion. I hoped to build…emotional density.”¬† He says it better than I’ve ever¬† been able to.

PSF Residency: Posts 7 & 8 (Plant 5, panel studies 3 & 5)

Two posts this evening because I failed to get to Friday’s events until now. So, two days down on the res….

Here are two paintings, one from Friday and the other from Sunday, now ensconced in my studio. Both were done at the Eastside Plating Plant, Building 5. Both were done plein air. On Friday I only began to freeze when I stopped painting. Sunday, I had a choice of sun and wind or no wind, no sun. Unfortunately I chose the one that unerringly moves — the sun. When the wind, which I was resigned to, picked up and flung my brushes onto the pavement and my fingers wouldn’t move properly to pick them up, I knew it was time to leave.

These are studies. These are only studies. These were done under somewhat fraught conditions. They will probably have their faces turned to the wall. But I have learned some things.

JOU, Plant 5, Study 3, draft 1, 16 x 12″, oil on Masonite, 2012

JOU, Plant 5, study 5, draft 1, 16 x 12″, oil on¬† Masonite, 2012

If you are paying attention, you may have noticed I didn’t show a “Study 4.” You noticed correctly, although a kind of Study 4 is much further along, in the studio, at a much greater size.

Sunday’s¬† Study 5 required access to a corner of the complex that normally isn’t visible when delivery trucks, workers’ vehicles, and SUVs of various sizes inhabit the parking lot. So I had to grab the view on Sunday while everyone else watched the Superbowl.

Beyond that, that glorious funnel, which is part of the painting above (never mind if you can’t find it — I had trouble myself — first drafts, you know), is the central object of Panel 4, in large, in the studio. The funnel was the object of my first painting of Plant 5, and so it is being enlarged and lovingly worked on.


The February wind drops the temperature in very nasty ways.

On Fridays, the 1 PM traffic is much more courteous than the 4 PM traffic.

On Sundays, the traffic is simply eccentric. Pleasantly low but eccentric.

Weekdays, the working stiffs check out the paintings on foot and talk about the weather.

Sundays, the tourists on their way to the waterfront talk about the painting, particularly when they are driving big trucks and viewing it only from their seats. Also they talk a lot when they are lost. Which many seem to be.

I am working hard to learn how to mix and paint dull colors — mud to be precise. It takes all the courage I have.

I am at that point where I think I’m slightly nuts to be painting this hunk of junk.

Or perhaps, this hunk of junk is laughing at me as I try to capture it.

Regardless, I will persevere.¬† –June

PSF Residency: Post #3

I didn’t get back to the Portland Store Fixtures studio until Friday of the second week of this residency. I have excuses, not real good ones, but hey — it’s January and the street-ponds have risen.

However, I did work in my warm studio at home, continuing with the painting that started me searching for a residency.

JOU, Under the Hawthorne Bridge, work in progress, 40 x 30″, oil on canvas, January 2012

This is the street outside the res studio window, with the overhead roadway which leads to the Hawthorne Bridge shading the street, the sleeping transient, and the railroad tracks.¬† Portland’s center city, on the west bank, is shrouded in fog across the river, but even in its misty space, it looks down at this eastside passage.¬† The painting is almost finished, but of course, it’s the last bits that are most important.

The other city-scape that I’m working on is more difficult to get a handle on. It’s a block-long grouping of old industrial buildings, the Eastside Plating Plant #5. Six countable buildings are jumbled together in something of a semi-circle, facing Main Street, with a paved “courtyard.”

I was first mesmerized by the over-sized funnel, fed by the large pipe coming out of the innermost building, that sits in the innermost area of the semi-circle. The more I look at the complex, however, the more I want to find a way to express its complexity as a whole.

I have begun an oil-painted study of the entire block, but it’s just a study (and I didn’t take a photo of it). What I did take were photos of the buildings themselves.

This is Plant 5 of the Eastside Plating Plant, photographed in sections. These photos are of the city block of jumbled and heavily trafficked working quarters.

SE 3rd and Main St, Portland Oregon. The Eastside Plating Plant #5

The other side of the windowed “wall” at SE 3rd and Main in the first photo. The low concrete building at the left juts into the space at an odd angle.

The entrancing funnel, along with an oversized trash bin and the inevitable wooden palettes.


This building, at the far side of the semi-circle, toward SE 2nd Ave, also intrigues me because it’s of a different era, or had a different rationale for existence. Its sloped roof and siding, windows and doors mostly boarded up and painted over, make it resemble a barn or trolley space more¬† than the industrial plant look of the concrete block buildings with flat roofs and big windows.


A view of the SW corner of the plant, with its tangle of shapes and lines.

Obviously, dealing with this will take some time. Just sorting out the shapes and planes and lines and figuring out how to turn those elements into a pigmented painting should keep me out of trouble. –June