Organic and Inorganic Structures
I live in Austin because I think it is a beautiful place, Every where I look I see something I want to paint. One of the lovely things about this area is the many places where water provides a cool retreat from the hot, dry landscape. Lady bird Lake, Barton Springs, the Highland Lakes, Onion Creek, Hamilton Pool, and Krause's Springs--these and many more are favorite places where water creates a unique mini environment within the Hill Country Landscape. My recent projects have centered around Lady Bird Lake. I like the juxtaposition of the urban structures, including buildings, construction cranes, and bridges, with the organic shapes of the water, trees, and birds.
When painting this scene, I decided that the tree next to the bridge pillar on the center right was the center of interest. I wanted to add more contrast between warm and cool colors to the picture, so I changed the foliage to Fall colors. In fall, the bald cypresses and sumacs in the area turn brilliant oranges, reds and yellows, and I used those colors to make certain trees, plus the bridge come forward in the picture, Cooler colors in other foliage and the buildings made them recede. Some spritzes of water from a fine mist sprayer helped keep the details in the biggest cypress in soft focus, so the eye could go on and travel into the picture.
Evening Bat Watching Tour
One of my favorite things about living in Austin, Texas, is the part of the Colorado River known as Ladybird Lake. It flows right through the middle of town, and it is one of my favorite sights to look down and see paddleboarders and canoers on the lake as I drive overhead on the Lamar Street Bridge. A specially nice thing about visiting the lake is how quiet it is, since gasoline powered boats are not allowed. A year ago last spring, I took some visiting friends for a boat tour at sunset, to see the flight of the Mexican Free-tailed bats from under the Congress Ave. Bridge. I took a lot of photographs. The challenge now is to turn some of them into paintings.
I was especially drawn to the bridges on the tour. As the sun went down, the light on them became more and more golden. As the boat passed under the massive spans, and past the columns, there was a feeling almost of apprehension, like crossing a portal. You could feel the heat still radiating off their cement columns as the boat slipped past to the other side. As the sun got lower and lower, the contrast between cool shadows and water, and warm sunlight grew greater and greater.
My favorite shot was taken just after the sun went down, as the boat was about to pass under the Lamar Street Bridge. The sky and water were golden and ephemeral,contrasted with the massive bridge. Off in the distance, rowers were moving their boats into some unseen place far ahead. My first attempts at painting this scene were total flops. Mistake #1 was interpreting the scene too literally, and trying to put everything in just as it was in the photograph. Mistake #2 was in trying to paint the bridge too accurately. The bridge became a big impediment, and not something you could pass smoothly under.
On Exhibit at the Dougherty Arts Center
Marsha Reeves is a watercolor painter living in Kerrville, Texas