David Coughtry

Drone, River Bend, 2020
Oil on Canvas
72 x 48 in
For the representationally challenged painter, the great Mississippi River flowing past a unique stretch at River Bend, between Alton and Hardin, IL is never less than compelling. It makes an indelible impression---this being one of the quintessentially majestic places of the Midwest. While teaching bluff-side along the Mississippi at Principia College's Center for the Arts, I have rarely left this river alone for very long. The place incites behavior entrusted to painting.

"Drone, River Bend" suggests the heat of summer and the great uplift of bursting clouds over the Mississippi in the coming twilight. Its visual vantage point is an impossible setting, comprised of bluffs, islands, and wild shoreline. The significant content is the storm's dynamism---the emotion felt by its immensity and confrontation, caught in a painted sketch to be utilized for a larger arrangement in the studio. There are moments since making this painting when I see it as a kind of a visual metaphor for the current state of the country and our world, as days grow dark midst the problem of a pandemic. I trust that, as in this image, the storm will pass, and pray that the coming dawn has its beam.