When I painted for MBNA, the prevailing mind-set throughout the company was that the sky was the limit. MBNA had a winning attitude, which came down from the top, Charles M. Cawley. The only glass ceiling for anyone who worked there was “literally” the glass ceiling in the atrium, at least in the Belfast, Maine office!
This painting was one I had completely forgotten I painted. How could I forget the amount of work and brainpower that went into this piece? It had so many artistic challenges in it that maybe, just maybe, I blocked it all out! ☺
How do you paint clear glass? There are shadows everywhere. What about capturing the shine on the slate floor and recreating the linear perspective receding down the long corridor? How do you differentiate natural light and true color versus artificial light, which creates a warm glow? All are questions that are helping me travel back in time to the year 2000, when I painted this architectural puzzle known as MBNA Belfast. ☺
Our new scanner allowed me to scan the 4 x 5 negative and enabled me to share it with all of you. I thought those of you interested in art might get a feeling of how difficult art can be sometimes. It required quite a bit of time just to draft it out on a wooden panel, using a grid system and an architectural elbow.
Free-handing straight edges with oil paint isn’t all that easy to do and takes a lot of patience. In order to produce a quality painting layering of paint is necessary and thus multiple coats of free-handing straight edges were required throughout this piece.
I had already written this blog when I discovered this next image of one of the MBNA buildings at headquarters in Wilmington, DE. I decided to include it too because of the complex challenges it provided me.
This particular building painting was also an architectural challenge being that the viewer is positioned relatively close to the building looking up into the dark night. It is such a strong perspective that sometimes a camera can create distortion, and working from photographs the artist has to determine what is realistic and what is distorted. Little things like the progressive curves to each separation in a pillar as they ascend skyward have to be scrutinized.
Lighting of course in this piece was a major challenge. The challenge being how to create an off white or limestone looking building at night, with strong darks in the shadows, and warm glows cast from the uplighting. How do you create a dark sky while maintaining some depth? How do you make a building look like all the lights are on inside?
Even with all of the artistic challenges and the countless hours spent painting buildings such as these, I enjoyed every minute of it. I was painting for a living, improving my craft, and working for a great company.
I was just watching a video of a master portrait artist discussing all that he went through in the beginning of his career and how it all helped mold him as an artist. I found it fascinating hearing how each challenge he accepted led him to where he was meant to be.
As we prepare ourselves for a move to Charleston, SC, I look back at my time spent painting office buildings for MBNA as a wonderful background to have when we arrive. I’m anxious to apply my drafting skills to the many architecturally rich and interesting buildings of Charleston, from many different perspectives!
I hope you enjoyed this look back at several of my earlier works. It was fun for me to rediscover work I had forgotten about. I’m currently working on a portrait and am hoping to discuss the process and share the final product when it is finished.
Thanks for reading my journal and please check back soon to see what’s on the easel.