Macy Street/Cesar Chavez Bridge - Los Angeles River Bridges - Historic Bridges of L.A. - Urban Art - Plein Air - Urban Plein Air

"Macy Street/Cesar Chavez Bridge" oil on 9" x 12" panel
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I had 30 minutes to complete this painting and it was a blast to paint! Was it a timed quick draw painting from a Plein Air event? No, I was out painting with friends one morning and had finished one painting early on but a person in our group needed 30 more minutes to finish her piece. I had lots of paint mixed and ready to go on my palette that was leftover from the morning painting so, I turned my easel around, grabbed a blank canvas and decided to go for it.

30 minutes isn't very long when you have to mix all your paint from scratch, but like I said, I had lots leftover and even though the colors and values weren't an exact match I figured I could modify them enough to create a new painting. The view was similar to the one in my morning painting which meant the colors/values were similar too.

I started without an initial sketch (a different approach than I typically use). Instead, I massed in the dark underside of the bridge first, then I painted in the blue river. Why? My instinct told me that they were the most important shapes in this piece and I should put them in first so that I could place them exactly where I wanted in order to create a dynamic composition. Then I painted in the rest using thick paint which sped up the process of filling in the large shapes with a few brushstrokes.

When painting like this I go by what my gut is telling me to do. There isn't time to second guess my decisions. I have to be confident and go for it. In this case I was warmed up since I'd already completed one (much slower and more carefully considered) painting that morning.

Even though this piece took very little time to complete I want you to know that the majority of my paintings aren't finished this quickly, nor should they be. There is a time and a place for painting using this method. Painting shouldn't be a sprint, it should be a long walk for the most part interspersed with moments where you sprint simply for the joy of it. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't, but the ride sure is fun.