Villa Ridge, Missouri Zephyr on Historic Route 66
Today marks my second day working on this 22 x 28″ watercolor of the Villa Ridge, Missouri Zephyr station along historic Route 66. I have researched and found the lights and gas pumps that once stood on this location. They are absent now. I’m also trying to restore some of the details of this Quonset hut filling station that are now out of sight behind plywood panels. The Zephyr gas sign is my own idea–I have no idea where the logo originally hung.
Last week when I visited this location for the second time, hard rains had fallen, and the enormous puddles in the foreground reflected the derelict structure. I’m going to attempt the reflections once I get to the bottom portion of this composition. So far, it has been slow to emerge, but I will hopefully chip away at it on a daily basis, and not allow school next week to interrupt my flow.
The paradox of “loss” and “presence” flooded me when I stood in the presence of this structure last week, in the moist air, and listened, recalling the sounds of bell cables being run over by cars entering and exiting the busy Route 66 station. I recalled the smell of grease, dirty tires and of course, that ever-present gasoline scent that I loved to inhale as a child! I still remember attendants emerging from the building, wiping their hands on red shop towels as they approached cars cars pulling into the bay. How long has it been since full-service ended? I’m still trying to remember the first time I pumped my own gasoline when I pulled into a station. I suppose it was around 1973. At any rate, last week, I felt the loss as I stood in this vacant space, waiting in silence, and then I felt the presence of the past. I hope I can put some of that into this painting. I laugh when I read of Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth chafing every time a critic called them illustrators. I go through that every time I do a painting of this type of subject–my soul is flooded with feelings and emotion, and yet I realize that I do not know how to paint “mood”–all I can do is illustrate what I see, and hope that somehow the “mood” emerges when a viewer looks at my work.
Thanks for reading.