Saturday, June 8, 2019

Moon Bridge

5/31/19 Moon Bridge at Kubota Garden

Last summer in Kathleen Moore’s Drawing Nature class, I made a small study (shown below) of the Moon Bridge and surrounding foliage at Kubota Garden. The other students and I who drew the same scene joked about how hard it was to focus on values using nothing but graphite when the bridge was bright red. It was difficult resisting color.

On a beautifully sunny afternoon last week, I finally got to bring out my colors for the Moon Bridge. This time I chose a slightly different angle so that I could include the reflection in the pond. Interestingly, even though I didn’t go back to look at it, I still remembered making the graphite study – the challenging foliage, but also the important darkest value under the bridge and of the railing shadow to keep the eye focused on the bridge. I was pleased that the small tonal study was still useful to me 10 months later.

On the other hand, the tonal study was of no help to me at all in preventing a messy mistake: I started by drawing the bridge and its reflection, thinking that if I placed and drew them accurately, the rest of the composition would be easy to fill in with mostly foliage. Once I was happy with those, I scribbled in the trees behind the bridge. But then I pulled out my spritzer as usual to activate the foliage and realized a moment too late that the bridge I had carefully drawn was now a blurry mess! As with any water media, sequence is important: I should have first lightly marked the bridge without coloring it, then drawn and activated the foliage behind it. Then I could have colored the bridge on the dried paper, and it would have stayed as crisp and solid as I had initially drawn it.
8/7/18 graphite study

Every sketch is a lesson for the next sketch.


  1. I really like both of your sketches, the tonal one and the beautiful red bridge.

  2. I'm ok with a watercolor looking watercolorey (a new word?). Most watercolors feel like memories to me rather than precise depictions. That's a lot of words for me to say I like how this came out, even if parts of it bug you! lol

    1. I know what you mean... one reason I love watercolor paintings is that watercolory, dreamy feeling! The moment when I realized the mistake was when I didn't like the sketch, but now that time has gone by, I like it more.


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