Oil Critique: "View of the Bridge"

View of the Bridge

This week, Colin J. Callahan talks about edges and the horizon.

There are two points that need to be addressed in this work. The first concerns the horizon. The bridge in this painting spans the surface of the water in a slight arc, which is the way such suspension bridges work. The water, however, seems to be bending as well and making what should be a straight horizon line a slightly curved line. This is problematic. It is so easy when painting wide vista oceans or lakes to bend the horizon line down on one or both ends. You should establish the horizon as a straight line early on in the process to help prevent this problem.
The second point has to do with edges. The sea, clouds, and shore are all distinct elements in this piece and they need just a bit of soft blurring to make the scene more natural. When painting, the mind likes to define each area, but the eye could care less. Each cloud in the sky, the line where the land meets the sea, and the distinction between the sea and sky have definition, but sometimes not sharp edges.
In regard to edges, it’s interesting to look at the work of George Inness. His early work is impressive, but note how later in life he began to lose the edges of almost every element in his landscapes. The result is a wonderfully powerful atmosphere in each work.


About the Critic
Colin J. Callahan
teaches painting and art history at St. Paul's School, in Concord, New Hampshire, where he also runs the school's gallery. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from College of the Holy Cross, in Worcester, Massachusetts, and he studied painting at Centro Barbieri, in Rome, Italy. Callahan is represented by Anderson-Soule Gallery, in Concord, New Hampshire. To view the artist's work, visit www.colincallahan.com.

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Brian Riley is the managing editor for the American Artist family of titles (American Artist, Watercolor, Drawing & Workshop) and has been part of the AA team since 2003. He first became interested in art as a child, specifically drawing, but drifted away from the visual arts as he grew older, gravitating towards writing while in college. His position at AA has offered him the opportunity to reinvigorate his early passion and continue his education.  

One thought on “Oil Critique: "View of the Bridge"

  1. Actually, we live on a planet that is a sphere and the horizon is curved. You can see this curve if you fly and have a window seat on a clear day, but the curve is not visible on the average landscape since it doesn’t cover a wide enough expanse to show. So, you are right. Take a T square and put in your horizon when you start. And I do agree about the lost and found edges. They do add depth to the painting. Good critique.