The Flat Iron Building - Ed Cahill, Atlanta Painting

Saturday plein air—The Flat Iron

The Flat Iron Building - Ed Cahill
The Flat Iron Building – Ed Cahill

This weekend my son Ed was scheduled to be in town staying at the Ritz on Peachtree right downtown Atlanta. He works for the Cowboys and they were playing Atlanta this weekend at the Georgia Dome. So with a free plane ride home we planed some family festivities while he was in town. The team was supposed to arrive around 5:30 Saturday so I decided to paint downtown and then pick him up at the hotel and take him back to the house for dinner.

I loaded up my equipment and headed down around 10:30 and parked in a public garage near the hotel. My target was the Flat Iron Building, Atlanta’s second oldest skyscraper—built in 1897. Now dwarfed by newer buildings it still has more grace and presence than it’s newer neighbors. It’s triangular shape is unique  and very similar to an identically named building in New York—although Atlanta’s is older. As was typical back in the late 20th century there was an attempt to adorn this rather modern concept with classical motifs of pillars and dental moldings. All in all, Howard Roark, would not approve but I must say that the proportions of this fine building are very easy on the eye.

A few months back I was at this spot with a similar quest but ended up doing the view north up Peachtree Street. This painting is the same 11 x1 4″ size and both are vertical compositions so they are an interesting comparison. The big difference is the thicker paint I’ve been using as of late and more confidant approach. The premixing of paint has helped me stay on track and concentrate on the task of rendering better and I’m using more paint because I have larger quantities to use.

I enjoyed the interaction on the street with all sorts of passer buys who would occasionally stop to chat or just give me a “nice job” as they walked bye. Saturday was beautiful and near 70 degrees so the weather was perfect. A large group of construction workers were busy across the street and several stopped in to check my progress during the afternoon. I learned from my last downtown excursion that the sun changes fast in these urban canyons and with that in mind I anticipated the light moving from left to right. I roughed everything in the shadow tones and developed all the architecture in dark cools and warm tones with the idea that as the sun started to hit the west side of the building I could catch the light. I knew this was not an easy quick subject so I worked all over and developed the background and streets on both sides of the building as I waited for the sun to turn. This dismayed a lot of the early onlookers, one gentleman stopping to say to me “you know that building isn’t brown, don’t you?” But as the day progressed and I started to put the light in they came around. Honestly, I was pleased with the outcome also.

About 4:30 I had everything done. I walked back to the parking lot and stowed my gear then headed to the hotel. About 200 people were outside waiting on the Cowboys to arrive. I pushed my way in and headed for the bar. A few scotches later my son showed up and we headed home. Oh by the way, we went to the game on Sunday night along with 50,000 others. It was quite an experience —can you imagine setting up and painting that. The Falcons won.

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