Following our recent Paris trip, I’ve been itching to have a go at one scene in particular. The sun shined only very briefly during the five days we were there, and it was on this particular occasion that we happened to be crossing the majestic Pont Alexandre III bridge in the heart of Paris. The photo below shows the view that I was most taken with, but – and here’s the spoiler alert – I got a whole series of images along this bridge that I think will provide a rich seam of material for me to play with in the coming weeks and months.
I knew that this view had potential but was also nervous about attempting it. I started one evening with a quick sketch in an A4 sketchbook which seemed to really take the pressure off of having to ‘do a painting’.
This took no time at all to do but I was really pleased with so much of this. I think knowing it was in sketch book allowed me to be quite loose and free with this, so areas like the bridge railings on the right were done really quickly and I think are all the better for it.
Things like the purple / – Alazarin Crimson in the clouds disappointed me, but the overall I was really pleased with the play of light and the atmosphere of a low afternoon sun that this conveyed.
I considered this for a few days before I plucked up the courage to make a more formal painting. I went up to a quarter sheet imperial for this next effort:
I must confess that the moments when everything seems to fall into place are few and far between, so when they do occur, I feel the need to celebrate a little! Aside from the odd minor blip, everything on this painting fell into place quite naturally and without any excessive fighting the paint or paper.
The backlighting of the screen makes the silhouettes of the three foreground figures look a little more washed out than they actually are, but overall I’m really pleased with the darks on this. I’ve found that on some recent paintings, my darks have gone a little ‘dead’ – perhaps from over-mixing, or too much burnt umber in some instances, but I managed to keep a bit more life and colour to them in this painting.
My recent figure sketches also look to have paid off too! The figures and their shadows were the last elements I added so I was feeling the pressure as I knew they would make or break it. I doubt without having done so many practice sketches I’d have managed to get these figures down in this manner. Still room for improvement but, I count seven figures in this painting (oh, and a car too, which is another rarity) – so all in all, I’m really pleased with this little Parisian adventure, which is also a wonderful reminder of a great holiday.