|Rock Creek Fantasy, pastel 11.5" x 7.5."|
Just my luck that during my week off work it rained the whole time--last week we had more than nine inches! I was at my wit's end--studio painting was the only recourse. It was so dark and gloomy outside, I perused through my digital photo files for something inspiring to paint. I remembered the photos of Rock Creek Park last year, taken on a gorgeous early November day when the fall colors were at their peak, and came across one of a bridge on Beach Drive near Blagden Road. That bridge is all straight lines: the road bed parallels the water banked with stone piers, and the metal railings run parallel to the road.
About a mile upstream from that one is another bridge--a narrow old WPA-built stone bridge that curves over the creek in a graceful arch. It's so lovely I keep wanting to stop to paint it every time I drive over it, morning and evening, on my way to work. Perhaps I will get around to it this year--it's a difficult spot to get to, as the road bends in several tight S-curves where you can practically see your own tail-lights. There is no long view through the arch to the creek beyond, and places to pull off are farther up the road.
I decided to be creative and imagine the old stone bridge in this location, relying only on my memory of it, therefore turning the painting into fantasy. The rest of the landscape is an interpretation from the photo. I like the way the color effects turned out: lemony yellow and lilac in the distant trees seen through and behind the bridge. The back-lit middle distance presented the opportunity for rich colors among the dark trunks, and the reflections in the water open a path for the sky to flow down to the subdued foreground. There is something very satisfying about pastels for rendering these effects.