Canton Bridge: #3

I went for another try at that city Bridge. I should probably go out and paint from life, instead of making this up from my imagination, but it’s really freaking cold outside.

I wanted this to read like it was painted here in Canton, Ohio. Even though this isn’t a real bridge anywhere in Canton, I figured using one of the street lights from memorial park would make this read like it belonged here.

To start, I sketched the image. This composition really plays on the exaggerated perspective, so I wanted to play close attention to that.

At first, I sketched the street light from memory, and when it didn’t look quite right, I pulled up a photo of the streetlights online to remind me of what they really look like. Thankfully I thought to do this before I started painting. After updating the sketch to be more accurate, I got something that felt much more true to real life.

I then used the left over grey on my palette from my last painting, and watered it down considerably to paint the sky. I don’t want to draw the eye here, but I don’t want to leave it completely untouched either, so I just roughly brushed in some light grey, and called it a day.

The distant buildings really help with perspective, and as a sense of scale, but I knew from the previous paintings that they shouldn’t be overly detailed. So, I painted them in as one large shape. I ended up creating a rather enormous bloom which at first I was going to leave alone, but it felt too big, so I smithed it out by adding a tiny bit of warmth to the bottom of the buildings, and pulled that up into the bloom with a damp brush.

Then I painted the street light. I’m really happy with how this came out. I started with some lines of a pale blue green, and as it dried I painted a few more lines of the same color. I was trying to remind myself that’s darker values are made by adding more of the same pigment, not by adding a different, darker pigment.

When those lines were nearly dry, I tapped in a few spots of indie blue for some deeper shadows, and to add some interest to the shape. Then, I stopped, and went to work.

On my lunch break, I added a wash of Golden brown for the Bridge, and used the same mixture to suggest the shadows on the street light glass (it’s still wet in this photo, which is why it looks so textured.)

Once that dried, I painted the figures in, trying to use the most detail on the closest figure and gradually less detail as I worked back. I also layered some shadows on the bridge to better suggest directionality to the light, and soften some of the distant edges.

I like this one. I think I did a decent job simplifying the composition which tends to be a problem for me. By reducing the distant buildings to a single shape, I get the perspective I want without flattening the scene. I could probably have pushed the figures further from the side of the bridge by making them all a little lower, they all seem a bit too close to the edge.

I really like the street light, which is great because that was my primary focus on this painting.

I also think I did a good job with contrast. I have strongly contrasting values, which helps the streetlight to come into focus. I have strong contrast in saturation, which helps draw attention to the figures. I also have a good bit of contrast in lines, some soft, some crisp, and a whole lot of lost edges in the background. This helps define the depth in the image.

If I do this again, I will move the figures away from the side a bit, and maybe add some trees into the background, to give another layer to the composition, it feels a little simplistic as it is. I also would like to explore shadows in this composition a little more, but as it is now, all of the shadows seem as though they would fall out of view. If I moved the light source a bit, I could get the streetlight to cast shadows on the bridge, which I think would help as a little more interest to the image overall.

Maybe I’ll go back later today, and as a few birds… that might help a bit as well.