Friday, August 24, 2012

Ghost town

In April 2011 my ol' Bristol chum Ash Boddy and I attempted to get to Bodie-an old ghost-town from the gold rush era near Yosemite. However the winter had been particularly harsh and the mountain pass was still snow-bound!
So Ash returned to visit California this summer and we made a second successful trip into the mountains.

From San Francisco it's a 5 hour drive to Bodie so we covered that the first day and stayed overnight in Bridgeport so we could have a full day to draw.  Our B&B was where Robert Mitchum stayed while filming 'Out of the Past' in 1947.

Early next morn we set off up the dirt track towards Bodie- once the most thriving and lawless mining town in the West. 
Reputedly the most well-preserved ghost-town Bodie is a fraction of the size it became in its heyday due to a devastating fire in the early part of the last century.  But the buildings and artifacts that remain are fascinatingly suspended in a state of 'arrested decay'.
Peering through windows is like looking into the past; a poker table abandoned seemingly mid-game; a school class-room eerily still fully equipped; the gym, saloon bar, grocery -store all frozen in time.

The wooden buildings look ready to collapse at any moment; their wind-blasted and sun-scorched walls warped and twisted.  No straight lines or right angles- heaven to draw!
If memory serves the shack above was to store ice!
Some of the buildings looked like they were saved from collapse just in time. The fire-house below is one of the more sturdy constructions.

The old saw-mill is still standing . . . just.
At a 10,000 ft elevation the site is that much closer to the sun and drawing in the baking heat was a trial, even breathing was more of a struggle at that altitude. However it was still a pleasure to try and capture as many of the warped buildings and out-houses as we could.

Life was hard living in Bodie-even going to the toilet would've been arduous, braving the elements not to mention the prospect of encountering rattlesnakes.

Read Ash's alternative account with a whole load o' untruths he just plain made up right here!


L Rossi said...

Whoa that's a lot of drawing in one day! *.* Really nice series

Uli Meyer said...

Great drawings Matt. Don't forget that poster, will you?

Balaji Venugopal said...

What a delightful post! I very much enjoyed both the narration as well as your sketches.

Ashley Boddy said...

Great sketches. You got the atmosphere of the place spot on. But UNTRUTHS!! Impossible! How could I have made all that stuff up?

Matt Jones said...

L-Bodie is so tricky to get to I wanted to do as much as possible on the day

Uli-How a bout a print of my Chinatown painting?

Balaji-thankyou sir

Ash- it was a spiritual journey-us against nature!

Timothy J Lamb said...

WOW. just found your blog. amazing work-amazing how much character have injected into these buildings

Timothy J Lamb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Baker said...

Love those brooding watercolour skies!

Unknown said...

Those brooding skies are a knockout...and this is one of those places on earth where a right angle is a wrong angle. Beautifully captured.

Ivan Pozdnyakov said...

WOW !!!awesome !

libra bear said...

So Lovely. I really like how you use the washes. How long did each pic take roughly?

merf said...


Matt Jones said...

Thanks so much folks.
@Librabear- I spent between 10-20 mins on each drawing that day just to capture as much as poss & keep moving in & out of the heat.