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.