Intrigued by the massive commercial ships and vessels I found at the Port of Tampa Bay, located near my Florida studio, I began the Working Waterfront series of paintings in 2013. I was interested in the massive scale of container ships and how light transforms the various surfaces of steel hulls, anchors, and architectural elements. My research included a private tour of the Port which is not open to the public. From a small powerboat providing a water/ground level of perspective, I photographed what I saw happening within this international shipping hub; the process of loading and offloading containers, tugs transporting ships to and from the Port’s narrow channels, and vessels in dry dock for maintenance and repair. I accompanied a harbor pilot taking a ship from the channel, through Tampa Bay out to the Gulf of Mexico as it journeyed to its next port of call. I also began to regularly track specific ships online as they navigated to each port globally.
By 2016, I completed 60 paintings of the Port of Tampa Bay and, being so immersed, realized the vital role the shipping industry played in our global economy. But it was in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, that that awareness became heightened. Because of the pandemic, shipping goods reached emergency status with orders delayed, shelves emptied of essential goods, and the industry faced a drastically decreased workforce. International commerce was nearly brought to its knees.
I am beginning to paint ships at the Port of Portland, located on the Atlantic coast in Maine, where I have a studio, as an extension of the Working Waterfront series. Focusing on specific architectural elements, which can shift between abstraction and representation, I am interested in exploring how natural light in the northeast differs from Florida’s sunlight and how shapes and colors are perceived.