Oil on Linen
South Railroad Avenue, Downtown Opelika, Alabama
I used to have a studio on South Railroad Avenue in Opelika, Alabama. The building was very old and built about 30 feet from a railroad shunting yard. If I ever got bored, I could look out my window at the trains. The whole area has lots to offer an artist, so I thought I would revisit it.
At first I had trains on my mind, but I decided to walk a bit and see what else there was. A few doors down from my old studio is a shoe repair shop that I'm sure dates back to the Civil War, complete with shoes from that time. The unique thing about this place (as if it needed anything more distinctive) is that the greater part of the front of the shop is occupied by an enormous cactus plant. It is reminiscent of “The Little Shop of Horrors”. I was all set to tackle that when I looked in the ally beside the shop and saw another enormous cactus. This one was up against an old stucco wall that was half in light and half covered with the shadow of the adjoining building. It looked just like something an artist in Santa Fe would paint.
I set my easel up in the ally and began. If you ever want to appreciate just how fast the sun moves across the sky, paint a picture dominated by a large specific shadow. When I started, the shadow was on the bottom third of the wall and when I finished, it was near the top. Needless to say, I had to use my memory more than I wanted too.