Thanks to guest writer Sally Murdoch for today’s post:
You could say Christopher B. Mooney is a fan of Portland’s bridges. As the focal point of almost all of his oil painting work, he says bridges “stand for achievement and they frame the landscape of a city. They’re ubiquitous and they’re critical to the city, to commerce, and communities and they bring them together. I think it’s amazing people can build these structures.”
When talking to him and glancing through his portfolio, it’s obvious he has gained unique access to many bridge vantage points. The paintings also trigger experiences he’s had while gaining access to these bridges. One image of the St. John’s Bridge shows the structure in the mid-90’s and a pastoral East bank, both of which would only be accessible from the water. Turns out Christopher had snapped this photo from the deck of a Vancouver BC to Portland Holland America cruise liner, and this became an oil painting years later.
Similarly, his image peering through the Broadway Bridge toward McCormick Pier was one shot many years ago that had him perched on the underside of the bridge. “I could never capture that shot again post-9/11,” he said. The image however, circulated in various homes and businesses through the Rental Sales Gallery at the Portland Art Museum until it finally sold almost a decade after it was painted.
Another fond memory was a recent one in December 2009 in which he was able to tag along with Portland bridge maintenance crews on their fortnightly lubrication mission on the bearings on the Hawthorne Bridge.
A Parsons New School for Design graduate with a BFA in illustration and a minor in photography, Christopher recently quit his job as a picture framer to devote his career to art. Today’s project is the Interstate Bridge which he paints using a time-honored technique using a “cartoon,” that has been in use since frescoes were painted in the Renaissance. The cartoon is essential in getting the scale right from large to small or vice versa, so once he has a photo, he scores it with a grid by hand. This gives the final painting some trueness in proportion as the artist is able to break the piece down into tiny squares.
He is also using M. Graham oil paints in his palette. Christopher has many works at the Rental Sales Gallery, and most paintings take him a number of days to complete. They range in price anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 for a larger piece, available here: http://christopherbmooney.com/ Or here: http://portlandartmuseum.org/visit/rsg/artists/Christopher-B-Mooney/
His favorite in Bridgetown? The Marquam Bridge, he says. “When you’re heading north on that upper deck of I-5 and you’re coming down the hill around the turn, the city is to your left. You feel as if you’re flying like a bird.”
The last image shows Chrisopher’s painting at the end of the day Thursday. We’ll post an update with a picture of his finished piece.