Pedestrian Bridge

On the 3rd day of the 2022 Jefferson Plein Air competition, we started the day on Main Street which has a plethora of restored commercial buildings from the 1800’s. That street was undergoing construction and I found the construction — especially the noise from the heavy construction equipment to be too big a distraction. So we went instead to the Riverfront park located on the east bank of the Rock River.

I set up my easel up under a tree that was on the river bank and looked north at the two bridges that cross the river in downtown, Jefferson, WI. They are a highway bridge associated with US18 and a pedestrian bridge that is relatively new and constructed out of timber. The bridge has 2 spans that feature arches made from timber beams that are joined with what appear to be steel fasteners. In between the two spans is a support constructed from yellow stone that is common in this area of Wisconsin and is the stone found in almost all historic buildings. For this reason, I suspect the bridge support dates to a prior bridge. This yellow stone features prominently in the painting. It is not only seen in the bridge support, it is also used in the retaining wall that forms a portion of the west bank of the river.

Unfinished painting of the Pedestrian Bridge in Jefferson, WI, at approximately the 1 hour mark.

I chose to only paint one half of the bridge, because I had a small canvas (11 by 14 inches) and I also wished to include the trees and structures along the west shoreline. In particular, I wanted to include the stone wall. The day was a hot one where the afternoon temperatures were in the 90s. I started this painting in the morning when the temperature was already in the 80s so my intention was do paint it quickly. The river color was influenced highly by the bright blue sky and and had a brilliance that is not captured by photography. I am pleased that is was captured in the painting. The morning light, also lit the trees very nicely. And the sun from the east lit up the wall of stone on the river’s west bank. The Arts Alliance of Greater Jefferson has a nice photo of me painting at this location. Link

In this picture, I used atmospheric perspective techniques, to create a deep visual space. The water takes on a lighter color near the horizon and the trees located farthest back are blue in color (which is how they appeared). The bridge that can be seen in the background is associated with highway 18 and is made of concrete. It is white in color and partially blends into the light colored sky. Two structures that on the west shore peak out of the foliage with there red and green colored roofs. I intentionally muted those colors because I did not want them to compete with the main subjects which are the water and bridge. The yellow stone wall with ivy was a challenge for me. I like how it turned out.

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