Friday, 16 May 2014

Widcombe Footbridge - Plein air & studio versions

A few weeks ago I went on my bike in Bath looking for a spot to paint when this footbridge caught my eye. It links the Widcombe bank (left) to the train station (on the right). I loved the variety of greens and the reflections on the water. I set up in the glorious morning sunshine and gave it a go. Here is the result:

Widcombe Footbridge in the morning  12"x10" oil on board


Below is a glimpse of my painting 3/4 way through. You can see I decided not to paint yellow barriers... 

At this stage a woman came to me and asked if she could have a look. When she saw the painting she said "Oh dear, you still have a long way to go haven't you?" I thought of explaining that actually my style is rather loose and impressionistic and it is meant to look like this, but she was gone already!

Back at home I was actually quite pleased with the result. And since I have the opportunity to paint in the studio during my daughter's naps - and not so much opportunity to paint outside - I decided to try a large studio version of the painting. See below the process:

My original plein air painting is on the table on the right, which I used as reference. After applying a neutral wash on a large canvas, I reproduced the main lines of the drawing:

I then started blocking out the colours with large brushes:

I then added more details and richness to the greens:

Here is the final result:

Widcombe Footbridge in the morning (studio version)  50cmx60cm  oil on linen canvas

Since the main reference for me was the original painting (I didn't take decent photographs or done proper sketching on the spot), the painting ended up being a scaled up version of the small one, with no more details. I must admit that I do like that idea because I wanted to keep the same freshness and bold brushstrokes, as if the large painting had been painted in plein air.



  1. Wonderful colors! I love the marks and freedom of your work Valerie.