Mohican Covered Bridge: #1

It’s absolutely gorgeous out today, so I went to Mohican State Park near Loudenville, and painted the covered bridge. On my way out, as I walked across the bridge, I passed a park ranger, so I gave this to her.

It took a lot for me to paint this outside because there were a ton of people around. That meant two things: a bunch of people to come look at it and ask about it, and me trying to just say thanks to those who complimented me, and ignoring the people who drove by shouting “Hey Bob Ross!” out of their windows.

But , I stuck it out because I really enjoy painting, and because I want to get better.

Let’s do a good bad and ugly.

The Good

The color value contrast in the background does a great job of communicating the light source, and allows for the silhouetted bridge and trees to make sense.

The knifed tree limbs work, but maybe some leaves would have helped. If I had added them, the value would have darkened and it would have had a negative impact on the thing I like about this painting.

I like the shadows, they are the right value, and the right color, and they add a lot of depth to the composition.

The sky is barely there, but I like it.

The Bad

Remember, this is the stuff that’s morally bad. Stuff I shouldn’t do because I know better.

Here, the bridge is overworked. I should have laid down a single dark value and stopped. Instead, I kept coming back and back and muddied it flat.

The rock is a mess. I painted it lazily, trusting my skills more than they have developed. So, I knifed a highlight and hated it. Then I tried again – mistake. Never try again. Knife it, and it’s dead. Never come back. Maybe I’ll change my mind on that later, but for now it seems like a good rule.

The Ugly

The bridge supports are too crooked. I should have painted them first, and provided some value contrast between the near and far supports to give the illusion of depth.

The water is too busy, and it’s the wrong color. The rippled texture is correct here, but because that style exists in so many other places in this painting, it’s less successful. I should reserve that effect for select portions of the painting, and allow some parts to be simple colored fields.

The tree trunk is overworked, and should be among The Bads, but I put it here because I think the way it meets the grass is ok.

The roof on the bridge is too noisy. All the details from the ragged edges bring it forward, which flattens the composition.

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