Temporary Obsessions: Acrylic Painting

Do you ever get temporarily obsessed with something? A hobby, or a song, or something that you find yourself drawn to repeatedly and frequently?

I am temporarily obsessed with painting. My interested in it has been growing slowly, ever since that first painting class in New Orleans. When I went to the wine and painting class in Lancaster, PA, it sparked my interest even further, to know that I could create something at a level slightly above “beginner”.

Since my mom is really into art (in fact she has an art exhibit that is beginning this month!), I thought it would be fun to treat Europe as an artistic learning experience. I think it would be wonderful to visit a new city, and sit enjoying a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and sketch / color / etc whatever unique characteristics the city puts on display. Will it be the fanciful architecture of Paris, or the bicycles and canals of Amsterdam, the gondoliers and waterways of Venice, or the colorful row houses in Poland? While I will also take tons of photographs while we are there, I feel like sitting and observing and reproducing a scene by hand will help me to anchor it more permanently in my memory.

So when I saw this GORGEOUS photo of Basel over at More 2 Explore, I knew I had to try my hand at painting it. It has many of the similar characteristics that I want to capture in other cities – the perspective of the bridge, the hodgepodge of buildings that curve down side streets, the reflection of the lights in the water.


So far I’ve gone through quite a few iterations. I decided before I even started that I would take this process slow, and learn from it. I would try out different painting styles, and I wouldn’t be afraid to paint over something if I didn’t like it.

Things I like:

I spent a long time sketching in the correct perspective before I started painting, so I’m very happy with the perspective of the bridge in relation to the buildings/water. The clouds have finally started to take on some definition, and the blue of the water has a similar shiny quality to the water in the photo.

Things to fix/finish:

It hasn’t yet reached the point where I am happy with the tone. My pinkish hues are poorly distributed – I need more pink/purple in the water, bridge, and sky, and less pink/more yellow in the buildings. I also need to fix the reflections in the water – the water is not reflective enough.

Goals and techniques I’m trying:

  • More of an impressionist style painting (best illustrated in the clouds and in the reflection of the lights under the bridge)
  • Incorporation of light into the painting – the reflection of lights in the water, the glow of buildings lit by street lamps
  • Reflections in the water – the lights and the buildings both reflect on the glassy water, but there are areas where the color of the water is entirely dependent on the colors of the buildings
  • Washes – this is my plan to adjust the tone slightly, I’ll try adding washes to the sky to make it a little more “night-like” instead of looking bright like daytime, and add washes to the water to tone it down and make it less bold.

 Any fellow painters out there? I would appreciate any feedback you have!


Categories: Art

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. Afraid my obsessions are blogging and photography but I would love to be able to paint. I was rubbish at school and have never tried since. I love your choice of photo- it’s a beauty.

  2. I think you are off to a great start. The reflections are especially captivating. Thank you for sharing the journey with us. Cheers!

    • I think you’re doing a fantastic job, especially since you have not had any “formal” training! I would like to make a few suggestions, though. The reflection, as a whole looks more like an inverted smile in the foreground. There’s a more broad light in the immediate foreground and then more individualized lights closer to the shore line. The light you painted in the center looks like a path and is more “idealized” or standardized. The individual lamp lights on the water look more pink to me and there are more of them in the original picture. Keep up the great work! -mom

      • Thanks Mom đŸ™‚ You’re right about the reflection being an inverted smile. I think when I go back to fix the reflections the “inverted smile” example will be helpful for shaping it.

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