Midtown Atlanta from Piedmont Park

Mon 27 November 2017

This is a view of the Midtown Atlanta skyline as viewed from Lake Clara Meer in Piedmont Park.

Painting of the Midtown Atlanta Skyline seen from Piedmont Park

And this animation shows how the painting came together. I painted this in three sessions. First was the background (sky and lake), then the skyline, then the bushes in the foreground.

An animated series of pictures taken as the picture was painted.

This is the third painting where I've used a photograph for inspiration. Counterintuitively, I think it's harder to paint a real scene than it is to make one up. If the details in a painting are a bit off from its real subject that's noticeable; paintings of imagined scenes however can't fall short of a real ideal. Here's the photograph I worked from while painting this scene:

A photograph of a similar scene

I did a simpler version of this painting first to get a feel for painting the skyline. One thing I found in doing this practice painting is that mixing up the colors for all the buildings was hard. Each building has its own color scheme, and for each of those colors I would need to mix two or more values to represent the sunny and shady sides of each building. Doing this well seemed too great a challenge, so for the final painting I opted for to paint the buildings at sunset when they're partially silhouetted.

A lousy painting

One thing that I've found is true in painting (and most other things) is that effort and planning seem to improve outcomes. To that end I did a little sketch of the scene before painting the final version. This helped me plan the positions and relative sizes of the buildings, the bushes, and the reflections. I also found that the aspect ratio of a sheet of paper is not the same as that of a canvas. This forced me to rethink where the bushes would go, so much for planning ahead!

A lousy painting