Tuesday, June 22, 2010


OMG!  Did I just say I was starting another series?  You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but seriously, I've been wanting to do some paintings of the Steel Plant.  I'm not going to say I'm doing a bunch of them.  I'm just going to nonchalantly say this is the first.

When I drove a truck every day I was going to Vashon Island a lot, mostly to haul the leachate runoff from the landfill with a tanker.  I would cross over the West Seattle Bridge (elevated above Spokane Street) in the early morning and see the Steel Plant and just be enthralled.  I can't say what it is exactly, but the way the sun hit all those pipes and metal buildings with steam coming out.  There are piles of rusty scrap outside, railroad tracks and cars, cat-walks, chimneys and occasionally, if you were lucky, you could see red-hot bars of steel coming out of one of the buildings.  The ground around the plant is black, there are mud puddles that reflect the light and the men are driving equipment around the yard.  It's all very.....I don't know....industrial?  

Now that we live in West Seattle I really need to put what I see on canvas.  Here is the beginnings, the underpainting - mostly I was using up what was left on my palette.  I really like it just like this, but knowing me, it will get too real-looking very soon.  This is 24" by 30".

My husband and I recently went on a tour of this place, the Nucor Steel Plant with a group from Historic Seattle.  I thought I'd be able to take pictures from the inside, but alas, it was not to be so.  They said I could take all the pictures I wanted....from outside their fence. Phooey!  Once the tour started I began to question why I was there!  It was scary, dirty, hot and smelly.  We had to walk on the cat-walks- metal grates suspended over the yard.  I hate walking on something you can see down through.  I have a very great fear of heights.  So, needless to say, I had a death grip on the hand railing, which was filthy with who-knows-what kind of dust.  By the end of the tour, most of that dust was either on my face or on my jeans.

It was a very interesting tour in that we learned a great deal about how steel is made.  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and generous.  Almost all of the steel made in America is made from recycled materials, hence the big piles of rusty scraps in the yard.  Nucor is very proud of the fact that they are 100% recycled material only.  We got to see the cauldron where they mix the metals and melt them down to make the steel.  It was a little like I would image Hell to be.  Hot, loud, dirty and it even smelled a little sulpher-like.  There were so many things I wish I could have photographed, but I restrained myself.  I'm going to have to walk down around that area a little more and see just how close I can get with my long-lensed camera.


  1. You convey the power of the place nicely.

  2. Cool! What a wonderful subject to paint. I look forward to seeing the one or more paintings that you do in this maybe-series.

  3. Thank you Ellen and Annie, I'm a little anxious about moving on with it. Part of me likes it as is, and part of me knows it's not even begun.