"Vincent Thomas Bridge #5 - Study"
watercolor/gouache on wc paper, 2011
9" x 6" (22.86cm x 15.24cm)
A study for my Vincent Thomas Bridge series and included in the upcoming show. See previous post.
A few months back I began to ponder this series, especially regarding the show, and how it would present itself.
The challenge I found myself faced with was the color of the bridge itself. If I wasn't careful I would end up with a bunch 'chrome green' paintings... and green is a tough color, too much and your'e sunk. My Dad used to say "There is no such thing as a bad color... only a bad application of it."
Who would buy paintings with lots of green? Kermit the Frog. Shrek. The Incredible Hulk. They're not real so that leaves... Ed Begley Jr.?
The green of the bridge itself is spectacular in real life, the iridescent light reflecting paint, shimmering even on overcast days. But the moment it becomes a painting it's a different set of problems. Artistic decisions must be made. You can't merely copy real life.
I decided I had better use atmospheric conditions and time of day, light and shadow to control the green of the bridge within the paintings. This allowed me to modify the palette. Darken it by throwing it in shadow, lighten it with bright sunlight, increase the saturation, decrease the saturation or step on it (as Stapleton advises), use very little of it by featuring more of the surroundings, or eliminate the green altogether. All of which I've done in various paintings for the show.
This study shows the bridge in the afternoon under full sunlight, giving it more of a lime color. Lime green could easily overwhelm too, but used sparingly (as Dad would do) it pops, its bold, like it or not it's unexpected.
For a study I was free to throw down color. Here I put the more saturated color in the top half of the composition, the blue sky and the bridge, while the lower portion is deeper and richer in color and tone, chocolate brown and forest green, which helps anchor and keep the saturated colors under control.
To better integrate the bridge into its environment I allowed the warmer tones to spill into the background.127
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