“Pittsburgh at First Light”

I’m working on a new painting, and I’d like to share it with you today. It’s called “Pittsburgh at First Light.” It’s very much still a work in progress, and you may notice that some parts look a little awkward. It’s hard for an artist to show her work while it’s still unfinished… so please be kind! Some paintings go together a lot easier, but painting this city is a long and complicated process.

Don’t get me wrong – I dearly love this painting already, but the other night I vented to my husband Tom, “This painting is doing me in!!!” I tried to count my blessings and remind myself that Pittsburgh as a city is just the right size. It could be worse – I could be painting the New York skyline. There are so many buildings to include, but they’re part of what gives Pittsburgh its personality. I was inspired to capture that unique Pittsburgh skyline at dawn, and that’s what I set out to do.

The story of this painting started on the morning of March 1st. Why do I remember the date so specifically? Because that was the morning Tom and I were up at the crack of dawn, driving our U-Haul truck full of art downtown to the Convention Center to set up for the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show. We were headed down Arlington Avenue at about 6:40 a.m., and the sun was just coming up. The beautiful morning light was shooting down the river and hitting the sides of the downtown buildings so perfectly! It was just a gorgeous sight. I turned to Tom and said, “Why didn’t I ever think of painting this before?”

Of course, all the elements were perfect that morning. What were the chances of seeing it again at just the right time with just the right weather conditions? (I couldn’t help envying those lucky folks who live overlooking the river and wake up every day to this spectacular view.)

We decided it was worth a try, so Tom and I picked a morning that looked as if the weather would cooperate, and we drove down Arlington Avenue right before sunrise to find our spot. We left the car up the road a ways and started walking down. Finally, we found a spot with an opening in the trees and a set of “Pittsburgh steps.”

Dare I? Dare we? Well, let’s just say going DOWN the steps wasn’t that bad. The next street down looked like a good place to set up shop and watch the sun rise. But then I wondered… where will the next set of steps take me? Could I get a clearer view? Again, going down was no problem. But let’s just say that Tom and I realized how out of shape we were when we started our long, arduous climb back up the steps, huffing and puffing along, one landing at a time. I was surprised it wasn’t noon by the time we got back up to Arlington Avenue.

I did return one more time to get the detail on the Ukrainian church in the foreground, and I need to go back again once more now that the trees have fully leafed out.

You may notice some irregularities in the sky and maybe a few other things that need work, but please have patience. As the PennDot signs say, it’s a “Work in Progress.” I hope to have much more of the painting finished by next week. It’s been quite a while since I started creating “Pittsburgh at First Light,” but this is the first time I felt comfortable enough with it to share with you! I would love to hear your thoughts.

Have a good week! You know what I’ll be doing!!!