Southeast Missouri State University

River Campus Mural

September 27, 2005 - October 28, 2005

     A full pallet has been mixed; and, I am beginning the work of creating the Robt. E. Lee steamboat. I have spent a little time working on the presentation of the boat and her appearance in the river. Steamboats were free-form objects. Actually, I feel they were floating sculptures. Many of the painted images produced don't exhibit the graceful lines of the 19th century vessel. Too often an image is produced of a flat, more "barge like", vessel. To produce the feel of the lines of the Robt. E. Lee, it has taken time and some trial and error.

     To my knowledge, there were no formal plans made of any steamboat in the 19th century. The above plans of the Robt. E. Lee were made in 1934 by a model building company in New York City.

     The plans above have been taped to the canvas as reference for my work. These plans were very helpful in the creation of my quartering view of the boat. Using these plans helped me to see the position of the general working elements contained on her four decks.

The fore and aft images of the vessel were helpful to identify rigging and the correct mooring points of the rigging. Plus, these views helped me to get a more three dimensional view of the steamboat.


      I have referred to the vessel as the Robt. E. Lee. As you can see, spelling out the name Robert E. Lee would have been difficult to fit on the side of the vessel. Thus, Capt. Cannon decided on the abreviation, Robt.. One of my bad habits is the use of small brushes early on in the painting process. However, this seemed to be the only way to get the job done.

         Because the painting depicts the steamboat racing at night, I am able to depict the boilers being fired at full capacity. From my plans, it can be noted that the Robt. E. Lee had eight boilers. The round figures depicted above my brush are the boilers and the retangular bright spaces below the boilers are the fire boxes with doors wide open.

      The detailing of the railing and gingerbread woodwork takes time.

Sandy tells me the painting is moving along at a good pace. However, the work seems to move at a snail's pace for me. Working on a mural is like eating a bowl of very average pasta. The more you eat the bigger it gets.


All the best to you,

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