Plein Air painting “Bridged” by Cindy Rietveldt

Wenatchee Naturalist, Cindy Rietveldt, can be found almost every morning walking her dog walk along the Wenatchee River in Peshastin.  Each day, she observes, takes pictures and then goes home to look at her field guides to identify the birds, snakes, flowers and shrubs seen along the way.  She says, “this brings so much pleasure!”

Cindy Rietvelt's painting "Bridged" of the railroad bridge that crosses the Wenatchee River, west of the Apple Capital Look Trail pedestrian bridge

Cindy Rietvelt’s painting “Bridged” of the railroad bridge that crosses the Wenatchee River, west of the Apple Capital Look Trail pedestrian bridge

Recently, Cindy’s acrylic painting “Bridged” was awarded second place in the Two Rivers Gallery 2017 Plein Air “paint a bridge” contest.  I asked her to talk about the process and approach she took to create this work.  Here is her reply:

This year the Plein Air Paint Out event at Two Rivers Gallery was called “Paint A Bridge” and required artists to do at least 80% of their painting of a local bridge on location outdoors.

Cindy's riverside view of the railroad bridge across the Wenatchee River

Cindy’s riverside view of the railroad bridge across the Wenatchee River

When I chose my site it was a decision based on the view of the bridge and my comfort while working for about 10 hours over a very hot weekend. I found a spot at Confluence Park that worked very well and thoroughly enjoyed the two days I spent there.

Cindy's husband, Bill, captured the artist at work in the out-of-doors studio

Cindy’s husband, Bill, captured the artist at work in the out-of-doors studio

That said, I placed my easel at the side of the Wenatchee River almost directly beneath the Apple Loop Trail’s pedestrian/bicycle bridge with a wonderful view of the old railroad trestle that you see in my painting. I started with a series of blind contour drawings on my panel. I have used these as a beginning to my paintings long before I took the Wenatchee Naturalist Class and they were my favorite way to put images in my journal during that course. I enjoy using the lines that come from my reaction to how the scene or object I’m looking at “feels” and then bringing the surprises of continued observation back into the strong shapes created in my original drawing.

CIndy Rietveldt Plein Air painting in Confluence State Park

CIndy Rietveldt Plein Air painting in Confluence State Park

The site is best described as “disturbed.” The well-trodden path that I’d walked brought a constant parade of people and dogs to visit with as I painted, all on their way to wade across the very low water to the islands of stone and gravel beneath the bridge. The trees around me there were black cottonwood, willow and a big Chinese elm. On the other side of the path was a large patch of blackberries. I saw no waterfowl during those two days. The only birds I was aware of were the pigeons cooing in the underpinnings of the bridge above my head. But, on the second morning at 10:00 I was startled to look up and realize that to my right, in the perhaps 30 feet between me and the chain-link fence surrounding the campground, five deer (two does and three fauns) were silently making their way to the river to cross  also. I can’t describe how that delighted me.

 Stop by to see all of the winning paintings will be on display during September at the gallery located at 102 N. Columbia in Wenatchee, open Wed.-Sat. 11-4, Sun. 1-4, and 1st Fridays 11-8.

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