Thursday, October 28, 2010

Visual Essay II: Greenline

The Greenline has been of interest since the idea was first mentioned. I am a cyclist and the concept of a 7 mile shortcut from Midtown to Shelby Farms sounded fantastic. A week ago I rode the trail from start to finish in a little under an hour. A full loop with stops took two solid hours. I shouldn't neglect the fact that those hours were spent admiring evolving scenery, from the Wolf River, to hay fields, equestrian stables, to neighborhoods and even a jailhouse. The Greenline certainly keeps it's reputation for bringing the community of Memphis together by bridging the gap between Cordova and Midtown. Waves and smiles from good-natured people were all I encountered.
The fear of crime on the Greenline that has been mentioned in The Commercial Appeal and other publications is something that I'd consider a very minor drawback to the success of the trail. If anything, the increased traffic would cause the crime to decrease and the property value of the surrounding land to increase.
Fodder for a documentary project is abundant. Any sort of unique stance I might choose to take on documenting the trail could be the first.
1. History
The Greenline was once a CSX rail line that has been converted into the newest urban park in Memphis, boasting smooth pavement for all varieties of active individuals. There are plans to continue the expansion of the Greenline into Overton Park, and progress is being made all over the city to add bike lanes and trails to connect the dots for easier urban travel.
I was interested in creating illustrations of the Greenline's current condition and using layers to convey its history using vellum as a window into what the abandoned CSX railroad looked like before. The jailhouse and Shelby Farms Park would also be locations to consider in the history.
In conjunction, I'd also consider the areas of developing greenways and present the current state with the vellum illustration standing in for what these places might look like in the future.

2. Oberve & Record
There is always the option of plein air sketches and small paintings while on the trail to capture the environment's immediate impressions. I would use a similar approach to the Roller Derby sketches when I draw or paint. Spending time observing the activities would help me get a better grounding in compositional and color ideas.

3. Personal Experience
I have already had some unique experiences on the trail and would like to try illustrating these experiences. The point of view I'd like to take with these is either from my perspective or through a camera lens with someone documenting the experience.

Artist Inspiration:
I've been looking at a few of Dan McCarthy's prints for inspiration, especially the images where history is communicated through layering. Dinosaurs are revealed when images are viewed in the dark. My friend Jane Radstrom has some amazing plein air paintings that I'd draw some technical ideas from. I don't think I'll be painting large-scale while on the trail, but I do like the quickness and directness to the approach. Wade Keller uses vellum in an interesting way with bookmaking. This artist uses text in transparency, but I would like to approach the idea of using imagery layered in vellum. I don't know if I should make these into a book upon completion, but it would be awesome if I were able to take that direction. Travel posters are also included to gather some ideas on how to simplify the landscape compositionally.

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