Rail bridge

Every Tuesday during the summer there’s a plein air painting group that travels around to different locations on and off the island of Montreal. Circumstances have prevented me from joining them until today but they were meeting in Ste. Anne de Bellevue which is always one of my favourite places to sketch. My friend Helmut was painting facing this rail bridge when I arrived so I set up nearby. I started in a shady spot but every half hour or so the sun would shine on my paper. I had to keep moving further and further into the shade until I could no longer see my subject so by the time I got to painting the water I  had my back to it, which may have been a good thing. That is always the advice I had from a few of my teachers in the past — if you turn away from your subject it’s more about creating a strong design in the paper and less about getting caught up in the details of what’s in front of you.


40 Comments on “Rail bridge”

  1. Alison says:

    WOW! I love the abstract quality. What a great design on this page. Thanks for sharing this excellent advice.

  2. Jody says:

    Thank you for sharing your paintings and sketches. Am so glad you are painting/drawing after some years off and that I found you along with Marc Holmes. This is so fresh, not over worked, clean color. Sometime maybe show your plain air kit/setup. Lovely work!

  3. cathy says:

    The water and the reflections! Will you share your colors? You’ve captured the sunny day but also the feeling of coolness if one was to sit under the bridge.

    • Glad you like it Cathy. That is exactly how the day was. Warm in the sun and cool in the shade.
      In this the colours are mostly burnt sienna, raw sienna, gamboge, cobalt turquoise, viridian green, alizarin crimson, cobalt blue and ultramarine blue. There may also be a bit of cerulean in the sky wash.

  4. Robin Moll says:

    Wow, the water is amazing. I may never look at my subject matter again if this kind of image might result. Thanks for sharing your daily sketches. You are inspirational.

  5. Beverley Rankin says:

    Shari, I am awestruck at your talent! Everything about your picture is so real-looking, especially the water.

  6. Jen Appel says:

    So realistic! Love the reflections in the water.

  7. Linda Denis says:

    You expressed the moment of the day perfectly. Better the sun is co-operating than the rain and cold wind of late. But even when the weather is not agreeable you always post a winner. So envious !

  8. Christy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your work. It is so refreshing and clean. I am so glad I found your blog. You are such an inspiration. I hope to attend one of your classes in the future. You and Marc should consider doing an online class.

    • Thanks so much Christy. I am happy to share my work. Sometimes just writing about it helps me clarify things in my head.
      I give most of my workshops in the summer because I teach in a college during the school year. Having a full-time job pretty much rules out doing any online classes but watch Marc’s blog site. He produces more step-by-step pdfs than I do and they are always great.

  9. Lee Kline says:

    Lovely. The water is superb. I had a watercolor teacher many years ago named Charles Logan Smith. If one of us had a particularly good patch of a painting he would say, “That really sings.” He has been gone for many years, but if he were here, he would tell you, “Shari, that really sings.”

  10. Beautifully done, Shari. I was sorry to not meet you… I was facing the other way! Did not think of doing a walk around…

  11. Francine says:

    Thank you and thanks for adding me in your blog-facebook was very nice meeting you and hope to see you again Francine

  12. That is such a good bit of advice – its way too easy to get lost in the detail, then end up without getting the essence of the subject matter. And this is a great sketch, the water is wonderful, so deep and cool.

  13. It’s all about the contrast; the bridge in the foreground is just color, and the bridge in the background is detailed. The river banks are basic color washes, and the water itself gets the treatment of texture. The fact that some areas are defined by color, and others by texture, really make this piece come alive.

  14. Mary says:

    The reflection, structure, form, light and composition are incredible here Shari 🙂
    I often kayak here and it never looks as good as this !

    • I never realized how beautiful this was until I saw Helmut painting it because I have looked at this spot before and just kept on walking. But the last time was a cloudy day and as we know, sun changes everything.

  15. isa says:

    Superbe ! Le traitement de l’eau est vraiment réussi et les tonalités harmonieuses, bravo !

  16. Ross says:

    That is amazing at so many different levels… sumptuous colours in such a classic watercolour treatment with all those transparent wash areas… great values with the contrasts of lights and darks… and such an interesting (unusual) composition with the foreground bridge looming over (and framing the subject). But, what is also amazing is that someone, who was so clever at planning and executing this painting, can have such limited ability at predicting where the shade will be for the next couple of hours. : )

  17. Rene Manning says:

    Wwwwwooowwww!! The water’s reflections…super!!

  18. Jane Hannah says:

    Indeed I love this one too… one of the reasons that I love it is because of the rustiness “grunginess” of the rail subject combined with the reflections in the water… and the focal point is enhanced by having that rail on top of it to guide the eye in… yes superb indeed!

  19. Gina B. says:

    Looove those reflections!


  20. helmut langeder says:

    It turned out realyy nice. I also like the close up version.

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