Ferry Street Bridge

Monet painted a lot of bridges. One of the founding principles of Impressionism was to paint things as they are. No glossy retouched, over embellished, or fake sunsets, rivers, or mountains. The goal was to paint real vistas under real light conditions. Truth in paint. This unromanticized and unfiltered lens was a departure from the Academic standards for “proper” subjects for paintings. But it allowed them to be accessible to the lay person. Everyone can look at a Monet painting and immediately recognize that they have seen that “type” of light before.

In truth, a painting functions as a visual bridge to another place or another time, but one that everyone can recognize as their own.

The art and architecture of bridge building during the industrialized era was markedly improved from what came before. Gone were slowly built stone, brick, and mortar bridges; in their place rose quickly assembled steel and rivet ones. Spanning unthinkable dimensions now became common place. Impressionists, often drawn to the water’s edge, captured many of the new bridges along with the old.

My paintings thankfully can build bridges as well. While painting this bridge over the Willamette river, Sophie and her brother Cameron watched from afar. Sophie (6) walked up to me and said, “That is amazing.” Her brother Cameron (9) was quite astute, and watched me paint parts. He recognized the correct colors of things, and had a good eye.

Art has always worked like that. It is magic. Everyone wants to watch someone transform a blank canvas to resemble something like what they see. Because of this magic bridge, I met Sophie, Cameron, their parents, and four other ladies. Had it not been for art, a shared moment would have never been. Art is a bridge to joy.

Cameron and Sophie

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