Friday, November 27, 2009

Bethel Grain Elevators

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

Used with permission from Liz West under Creative Commons license; thanks Liz! Here's a link to Liz's original photograph:

I got inspired by Don Gore's recent painting of grain elevators, and they reminded me of how much I enjoy seeing them.  I've spent a fair amount of time in Kansas, and have seen my fair share of elevators.  It's such a staple of the prarie landscape that it's almost a bit of Americana just to look upon them.  It invokes the agrarian work ethic of the American farmer.

My goals with this painting was to create a work that looks strong from about 30 feet across a room; therefore, I didn't worry about detail--I tried to stay loose and paint spontaneously.  I first drew an accurate perspective drawing of the buildings and laid the sky wash in first.  I rendered the elevator shadow as one big dark-valued shape to sharply contrast in value with the sunlit side of the taller buildings and the middle-values of the smaller buildings.  I used a fairly restricted palette:  cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, perm. alizarin crimson, raw sienna, burnt sienna, and payne's grey.  This was really a fun painting on which to work.  Thanks Don, for the inspiration and Liz for the reference!

Here's a value sketch I did using my Faber Castel brush pens in my 3" x 5" Moleskine: