Sunday, March 21, 2010


It's difficult to be a representational painter in the Pasadena area and not paint the Colorado Street Bridge. I would hazard to say it is easily Pasadena's most painted feature. There may be painters who have made careers of painting nothing else. There is a constant demand for bridge paintings to decorate the offices of Pasadena professionals. It really is a special bridge; it is exceeding long and curves over its course. It's nearly 100 and features lovely arches and lights. A painting of the bridge must necessarily include much of the sky, possibly at sunset. It will likely include hundreds of trees. Depending on the angle, it might take in the mountains or an old hotel.

In its distant past, the Colorado Street Bridge served as the jumping off point for many suicides, but they've added grating to put an end to that. People still call it Suicide Bridge. I used to call it that, but I hear it less and less. Good thing. Better we should paint it.

So I took the plunge on Saturday, and painted the Colorado Street Bridge for the first time. I went with my newly formed Saturday paint out group. Parking again was extremely challenging. One of the downsides of Saturdays, and economy that's keeping people away from the mall.

I'm getting more used to oil paint. You can't layer it like watercolors, and the colors don't even really mix the same. Inspired by Elio Camacho, I left burnt sienna off my palette, and added thalo green. The colors may be a bit extreme, but that may be good.


  1. Hello Barbara,
    Thanks for the comment. I like you landscapes especially, a distinctive treatment which is a signature -- 'Bridge', and 'Castle Green.' Not so much 'Collectors' (maybe the subjects, here). What a challenge -- to turn that marvellous fly photo into oils!

  2. ^I tend to disagree, though he hasn't followed your still life adventures, "collectors" is one of my favorites, along with the mortar and pestle.

    something about the bridge was hard for me to comment. Very thorough description, all the way down to the name of suicide and its subsequent undoing. the picture though, well I think it's great, I don't know what it is. It actually looks like a picture I would've taken, with the angle slightly skewed..

  3. I think I kind of get what Alan is saying. For me, a still life has to pack an extra punch, just because of what it is. or isn't. In my bedroom I have the grand canyon, and the middle part of europe. In the living room, a mission and an apache. In the dining room, two views of the Sierras and an eastern forest in fall. The bowl of magnolias is lovely, but I could have a real bowl of magnolias instead, right in my home. That I guess is a piece why its easy for me to be a little dismissive of still lifes, unless they are Cezanne or Matisse, who, for me, can make a vase of tulips as rare and exotic as ancient rome.

    The bridge isn't quite the bridge.

  4. Hi Barbara, Thanks for visiting my site and leaving a comment. I like your 'request' for comments! You're right, leaving comments created ties and good spirit in the blogosphere! Hate to feel like we're all just yellin' down the well!

    I like this painting very much. Great loose brush strokes and the rendering of the bridge is good to my architectural-picky-about-perspective eye!!

    Your comments regarding still life work are apt. I am doing primarily still lifes (lives?) as I relearn the painting process. In some ways very academic and I question every single one of them from the standpoint of 'does the world really need another painting of pears or wineglasses?"! As I push through this extended exercise I am constantly mindful of Thibaud's quote that's on my site and of A. Wyeth's statement that 'it's not what you paint, but what you bring to it' (loosely quoted) I'm starting to find some deeper reasons for painting the stuff I have around and am realizing that, after reviewing HUNDREDS of photos in specific lighting situations, my attraction to the compositions I end up working on is something that I can not and should not ignore. Question rigorously, yes, but not ignore.

    A blog friend pointed out when I posted a rare landscape that it was not different from a still life, simply a change of scale. Great words of wisdom.

  5. A wunderful 1st painting of the Colorado St bridge! Look 4ward to your future attempts.