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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Watercolor Painting :: Looking Up

Watercolor Painting 'The Pole' by Steve Penberthy

"Looking Up"
14" x 20" (36 x 51 cm)
Watercolor on Langton Prestige 140-lb rough paper
© 2009 Steve Penberthy

For some reason, I've been wanting to paint this utility pole and finally got around to it. This pole is about a quarter-mile (0.4 km) from my house. I like this as a subject since these forgotten sentinels of the information superhighway seem to stand in stark contrast to the seemingly ubiquitous cell towers I see everywhere. Still, I'm sure there's massive amounts of digital information (DSL, etc.) blasting through these analog copper circuits...

To render the clouds, I used knowledge gained from a Tom Lynch workshop I took last year, specifically varying the edges around the cloud to add viewer interest. I used a flat brush to "scrape" in wispy lines of blue into the white, used a paper towel to scrub out color along various edges (creates a smoothing effect), and used short bursts of water from my Holbein spray bottle to create mottled edges. The inner grays of the cloud is a random placement of wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry using a gray made from cerulean blue, yellow ochre, and quinacridone red. I varied the amounts of blue or red to get bluish-grey or reddish-grey. I used cobalt blue for the sky, since it represents a warm summer sky quite nicely.

The painting uses a range of values, from the light clouds to the dark silhouetted telephone wires and supports. The wood of the pole is a mix of cobalt blue and burnt sienna done wet -in-wet, done over a dried wash of yellow ochre (the dull yellow of the ochre simulates the naturally-dull reflected highlights of the lit side of the pole). I used Holbein Indigo for the dark wires and supports. Wires were painted with a rigger brush.

14 comments:

Tom said...

I find it hard to believe, at first glance, that this is a painting. Very, very nice. And an interesting, impressive change of pace.

Gabrielle said...

Wow, Steve. This is an amazing painting. Such a cool composition. Congratulations!! At first I thought it was a photo, but then when I looked more carefully I could see all the different colors you used and well, I have to retrieve my lower jaw from the floor now.

Linda T said...

This is great! What an everyday sight from a unique angle. Really good.

jgatienza said...

at a quick glance i thought it was a photo and thought that it was strange but taking a closer look i realized that it was a painting... wow! that's really nice!

Steve Penberthy said...

Hey everyone, thanks for the awesome, inspiring comments!

-Tom: "...change of pace." -- I didn't intend this to represent any sort of style departure for me, but you're right--it does have a different look. Thanks for the insight.

-Gabrielle: Hope your jaw has healed by now. :) Thanks for the jaw-dropping comment!

-Linda T: Thank you! Yes, this is unusual subject matter for me, but somehow I felt like it would make a fun painting.

-Gerard: Thanks so much for checking it out! It really did come off photo-realistic, but that wasn't my goal. Had a bunch of cloud techniques that I needed to use--that was one of the goals.

Krista Meister said...

I agree with Tom! At first I didn't think this was a painting, but a photo. This is an AMAZING perspective you've chosen. Wonderful, wonderful! I'm going over to Flickr now to mark it as a favorite.

Steve Penberthy said...

Krista: Thanks for popping over and checking this out! Means a lot that you like it. And thanks for the Fav over on Flickr! :)

caseytoussaint said...

Wow - I thought it was a photo at first too - but it's much more beautiful than a photo. Well done!

Steve Penberthy said...

Casey: Thanks so much for checking it out--I appreciate the comment!

Ryan Byrne Art said...

I love this it looks so real and love the subject also!

Ryan Byrne Art said...

Hiya Steve
Is this for sale?
Ryan Byrne
Australia

Steve Penberthy said...

-Ryan: Thanks for the comments and your interest in the painting!

iin said...

Wow, I thought at first where is the painting when I look at the pole picture, this is only a photo, and then I try to see through squeezed eyes, so I could see more clearly and then it dawned on me, this is the painting, not the photograph!

CrasmartistGirl said...

Steve, this is a beautiful painting. I am an art teacher in training and would love to use this image as an example of perspective in a powerpoint. I would give you credit in the powerpoint and give as much information as possible about the painting. I would not reproduce it in anyway, just use the image in a powerpoint for lessons. What do you think?

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