Paris – the Seine and it’s beautiful bridges!

Pont des Arts, Iledelacité, 2011 by frankeber

Although I am doing a lot of plein aire painting in San Pedro lately, I decided to stay with the french theme and post these older images of Paris first. San Pedro – as far away from Paris as you can possibly get…

Pont Saint Michel 2011, by frankeber

My class is getting ready to learn how to paint water. Arguably one of the more difficult things to do in watercolor. The major problem, like most of the time in watercolor painting, is of course, timing.
Water must be painted wet in wet to accomplish the nice soft waves, unless we are trying to do hard reflections. Most of the time we are doing both.
To illustrate this point, we can look at the pieces I posted and quickly see that both types of reflections are present in the two paintings. The first step is to establish the background wash and add the soft waves while the entire wash is still wet. That basically means we have to work quickly and efficiently!
The important part about the hard reflections is to connect them more or less seamlessly with the object that is reflected, i.e. the bridge, wall, boat hull etc. If you neglect this step, it won’t look right! Lastly, don’t put too many reflections! Less is more and it takes a bit of practice to put them in the right place, so don’t give up if the first attempts don’t come out so well…

detail, Ile de la cité, 2011 by frankeber

These bridges in Paris are known the world over, so I’ll forgo a detailed description. As in most of my work, l am drawn to the more moody scenes and subject matter. Paris is certainly the perfect place for that and even in bad weather there is an unbelievable degree of mood there, maybe even more so than on a nice day! To capture scenes like this, we have to simplify a lot! We basically paint ‘as if ‘ we put everything in.

If you look at the detail on the houses in ‘Pont neuf’, it looks as though I painted all the windows, gables etc, but from up close it’s just a few darker against lighter value shapes. Nothing really there…

As has been stated many times before, paint the essence not the detail!

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6 thoughts on “Paris – the Seine and it’s beautiful bridges!

  1. Carol King

    I found this post fascinating Frank. I really like paint the essence not the detail. Now if only I could learn….

    I really like all these paintings. You are very inspiring.

  2. Michael Reardon

    Frank, I just came across your blog via Chris Beck’s Spotlight. Wonderful work. I didn’t realize you were a fellow Francophile. I particularly love your series of Paris bridges. The Pont-au-Change is one of my favorite subjects.
    Incidentally I’m also doing water in my recent workshops. Your explanation on how to handle it is more eloquent than mine. I’ll have to refer some students to this blog.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Michael! What an honor to get a comment from you on my blog! I am a big admirer of your work and you have been around for so long, I feel like a baby watercolorist compared to you..hahaha
      Thank you so much for your comment and visit. I agree, the pont au change is such a great subject matter, from every angle really!

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