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Tag Archives: Bodie California


This week we talked about buildings or man-made structures in a landscape.  We discovered that most man-made things are very geometric in form and that the rendering of them might be like putting a series of shapes together, such as triangles, squares, rectangles, ovals and circles. Arches are good examples of rounded forms and are found in many bridges and entryways. We considered values and how our building/ buildings sat within the foliage and landscape that surrounded it. Were there shadows cast by eaves or trees on the side of them? Was one side of our structure in bright sunlight and the other darker? Where would our center of interest be? Would it be the doorway, a reflective window, a person standing outside? How did our structure or structures contrast or fit into the landscape surrounding?

I chose a photo of Bodie, California that I found on Wet Canvas. Thankyou to Wet Canvas for that! I had only attempted a cluster of buildings once before and saw this reference as an excellent one to practice putting shapes upon shapes within a landscape.  I was intrigued with the large and sloping landscape of the background hills against the old ghosttown and the tiny shapes nestled within them.


My first concern was gettting the buildings on my format where they belonged, so I chose to grid my paper for my drawing. If you do this, remember to erase those lines before starting to paint.


I also took the time to plot a simple value sketch so I could determine how I was going to divide the space so the lighter buildings would be visible in a largely light landscape setting.


I began with the background hillsides and worked my way down to the ghosttown.


I worked my way through the main cluster of buildings. I realisied, at that point that the cluster pointed to the road on the right, so I left that very light as I worked because that road seemed to hug the town and circle around and behind it and could possibly serve to lead the viewer’s eye through my painting.


To finish, I put a light wash of burnt orange behind the lighter cluster of buildings to help to make them more visible and defined the area of the roadway. I scrubbed (with a damp sponge) away a portion of the pigment to the right and left sides of the main cluster to provide contrast. I put finishing touches on the loose foreground grasses and darkened the areas to the far right and left of the scene in order to hold the viewer’s eye on the scene. The smokestacks and poles were the last things I painted.

I wonder what it would have been like to work live and work here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.