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"Gathering Storm" is an acrylic that I just finished.  Reference photo is my own and it is a painting of the Susquehanna River bridge at Wrightsville PA, where I grew up.  I am still trying to master reflections so I will appreciate any tips you can give me.  I signed it however I can always go back and make changes.  My skies are getting better but water...that's another story.

hi Mike! thanks for posting this. i also have a problem with reflected water. i would love to see the pointers you get. Personally i think yours look great :)i do think that the refection of the bridge posts should be somewhat muted in color, it would push the bridge into the distance more, i love the colors you chose. and you sky is very pretty:) the last painting i posted should have been in discussions too!

Thank you Wenda.  Karen put some good tips in her response.  She agrees with you about the bridge reflections.  I will get busy and follow your advice.

Hi Mike!

Lovely! You have really pushed the color in this one. It gives it a very lighthearted feel. Nice!

As far as the reflections. You want to keep the strokes looser than the element they are reflecting.

I find the best way is to use vertical downward strokes. Then rinse your brush, pat it dry and come in with some horizontal strokes while it is still wet.

You also want to show a color and value shift to separate the reflection from the element. See in the reference photo how the lights in the reflection are darker than the ones on the bridge?

In the same way the darks are lighter in the reflection. So, overall there is less contrast in the reflection.

In an image like this you will want to bring in more of your reflected sky color across the reflections as they get further from the bridge. So they gradually break up more as you move away from the bridge.

One composition thing you might want to think about. You have the hill behind the bridge completely enclosed in the bridge arch. It just looks a little awkward. I would either raise it above the bridge a little, or drop it below so there is some sky showing through. Maybe even continue it a little into the next arch. See what I mean?

Color harmony - You have pink purple gold and green. For me it seems a bit unconnected. But that is totally up to you! So ignore this comment if it is pleasing you!

If it were me, I would probably tone down that purple color a bit. Make it more neutral. And more blue.

You have that very warm gold hill in the background. The color is warmer than the bridge, so it is tending to come forward, not settle into the background. I would instead use a more neutral, cooler color. You could have a cooler blue gray for the distant hill, a slightly darker version of that for the hills behind the bridge, and a darker yet version for the shadows in the bridge.

Neutralizing all those background colors will let the sky and bridge take center stage without competing.

As always, just some ideas! Just go with what makes sense to you!

Also, here is a short video on reflections - you may have seen it already, but just in case:


Mike, I love your use of color. Very nice. I always paint my reflections, then re-paint and re-paint and find that I am going darker and darker, then almost find where the light reflects off the darkness and "add" a few spots of light back in. Most of my paintings are actually about 6 or 7 paintings :-) I think we should all do a time-lapse challenge :-)

Whether you change this or leave it, it is beautiful. 

Thanks Micki.  I do the same actually!

"Gathering Storm" Acrylic 18X24 on canvas support:  So this is my latest impression of the photo that I originally posted.  I took into consideration, and decided to alter, the original incorporating Karen and Wenda's suggestions.  I actually think that it made for a better painting.  I made the gathering storm a little more menacing (lol) to be consistent with my title.  I also worked over the river reflections, binging more of the sky into it.  This is like so many storms I witnessed forming in the north as a 12 year-old that made me head my rowboat to shore and scurry for shelter.   Not too late to make more changes!  Let me know.  Thanks everyone for your help and support.

I love it Mike!!!

wow Mike! this is fantastic. you made just the right changes :) love it!

As I mentioned earlier, I love it!

There is one tiny spot that is drawing my eye. The land behind the bridge on the far right. The shape is mimicking the shape of the bridge arch. If it were me I would continue that up and above the bridge there...

The color of the dark menacing clouds you have added just above the bridge is reading too muddy to me, maybe its the lighting for the photo? If I were doing it I would lean that a bit more purpley - still netural, but the color there is almost the same as that right hand land mass to me.

Just a thought! Oh, and a touch of pink in the water reflections?

:) Great job!


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