Chris Weller’s Bridge Drawings of New York City
Taking on icons is always tricky for an artist. That is why when I saw Chris Weller’s drawings of the bridges of New York City I took notice. As the artist told me, she put off drawing the Brooklyn Bridge again and again because she wasn’t sure she could bring anything to the party. But the fact is her bridge drawings bring a lot to the party. When you stand in front of Chris’s drawings you get a sense of what it is to be the air hovering around the base of a bridge, the sweeping angle of a suspension cable, or a stone tower as it pierces the sky. Each artwork has a unique perspective that seems to put you “there” in the time and space of the drawing.
The drawings are all approximately 36” x 48” and that is mostly because the paper Chris uses doesn’t come any larger. If it did, she attests that she’d really “go big” because the subject matter calls for the larger scale. She especially loves working out the compositions with some breathing room and starts each drawing with a light pencil drawing that takes Chris about a week to complete. She draws on a printing paper by Somerset, which is bright white so the artist can get a huge grey scale range and very heavy and able to stand up to a lot of erasing. Chris uses plain old General’s charcoal pencils, a Papermate eraser stick, gummy erasers, and a lot of sharpener blades.
Each drawing (there will be seven in total—the final two are still being completed) encapsulates the awe and visual complexity of its subject, but the complexity of the architecture is not something Chris has a background in. “It’s all smoke and mirrors. The perspective on all the drawings comes from my walks under the bridges. It places the viewer in spots that can’t be described perfectly using traditional perspective formulas. I fake it a lot. I have a photographic and mathematical mind but in the end I get very creative with perspective. None of it is ‘right.’ I eyeball everything, move things to benefit the composition and feel of the drawing, and erase a lot of mistakes.”
It’s this freedom Chris feels to work out of her head that I am so drawn to. She seeks a way to have her drawings feel like the observed, natural world, and sometimes that means making up the details for the success of the whole. It’s a fearless way for an artist to work, and I know I am not alone when I say I salute her in this!
In homage to Chris’s bridge drawing series—and to all the artists who are draftsmen at heart and understand the potential inherent in drawing—we’re celebrating the power of the pencil with Start Doodling, a resource that will sharpen your skills and animate your creative spirit, proving that the power of the pencil really is in your hands! Enjoy!
P.S. See the rest of Chris’s bridge drawings on her website.