Is a Word Worth a Thousand Pictures?

The word is “Gimbels,” and I wouldn’t be surprised if I have a thousand pictures of it. So many different perspectives and points of view… a little of this and a little of that.

I was just talking to a client on the phone about my process of researching and planning this painting these last couple of weeks. She asked if the Gimbels painting will become a puzzle. I told her I haven’t even thought that far ahead. Then it occurred to me that putting this painting together has been a lot like solving a puzzle. I am so thankful to those of you who have reached out to me and helped me fill in some of missing pieces!

But I have a big question that has yet to be answered…

It seems there were a number of different Gimbels signs during the store’s lifetime. The one pictured above is the one I will be using. You can also see it in the sketch below. In the photo it looks blue, but so do a lot of other items in the picture. It’s almost as if it were taken with a blue filter. My question is, does anyone remember this sign and what color it actually was?

Many of the photos I’ve acquired are rather odd, insomuch as they have color in parts of them, but then other parts look mostly black, gray, and white. Whenever I’ve come across this particular sign in other photos that seems to be the case… all except in this photo, which I’m afraid I can’t trust. Also, the trim and awnings seem kind of brown with a dark grey edge. Tom says I’m overthinking it. But I’m afraid that if I paint it the wrong color, someone will surely come along later and say “No, no, no!”

It’s going to be an evening painting anyway, so I could make it an almost-black dark blue. The letters will be lit up, of course. Though they’ll be small, there will be holiday windows, and I’m thinking some snow would be nice. The streetcar will have a really nice glow to it, and the background will be a bit foggy. I feel like I’ve included enough people to make it festive, but I may add a few more as I go. And as usual, if you look closely, you may see a few familiar-looking children admiring the window displays!

I even found an image of a Gimbels bag on Pinterest so I can put the logo on some shopping bags.

As you can see, I’m actually thinking out loud and planning the painting as I write this. My next step is to put a watercolor wash over the sketch. That may not make much sense to you all, but it will be a roadmap for when I paint with my soft chalk pastels.

I’m still open to your thoughts about the colors and eager to hear more of your stories about this iconic Pittsburgh landmark!

Wish me luck!