Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Sketch Becomes A Painting

After Tuesday's breakfast at O'Connor's with artists from the Portland Plein Air & Studio Painters group, and after sketching with Celeste Bergin and Carrie Holst for the group's Behind the Scenes activity, I headed home. I made my usual right turn and the bridge carrying folks in and out of Multnomah Village lay before me. I have always thought the scene would make great subject material for a painting, so I pulled into a conveniently empty parking spot and did a quick sketch with an even quicker wash of color. I simplified the images and exaggerated the passageways and arches of the structure.

Thursday morning I decided to use the sketch as the basis for a painting; I enlarged the scene by redrawing it on tracing paper and transferring the larger image to my Arches block. I used to draw directly onto my watercolor paper, but ended up with too many unwanted pencil lines and too much erasing. Next I evaluated the composition and felt I needed more information to make the painting work. I drove back to the scene of the crime with my trusty digital camera to record the architectural elements of the bridge more accurately, but alas accuracy was not meant to be - the batteries in my camera were depleted. This was a sign - go with my gut - stay true to the original sketch and the great shapes created by the play of positive and negative shapes.

Once back in my studio, I laid in the basic design with light washes, waited for them to dry, and then began to build the painting. I returned to it on and off all afternoon and evening, added gouache and a few details here and there. As usual, I'm not quite satisfied and will probably make some more "adjustments," but I'm happy that I finally painted a scene that speaks to me every time I drive past.

It was a good day - hope you're having a great weekend.


  1. Five stars, Donna...I really LOVE this!

  2. Great view of the Capitol Hill overpass. I think I did that view once or twice. Yours has great color.