Saturday, July 25, 2009

Covered Bridges -An Artist's Delight!



I enjoy finding and painting covered bridges. When we have traveled through different parts of the United States, we have located and photographed covered bridges. I do a Google search by typing in "covered bridges" and then locate the bridges in the area in which we will be traveling. Locations are usually given to locate the bridge and many Internet sites will even include a longitude and latitude for GPS tracking. We have followed written instructions and have wound up on a "wild goose chase" but have a great time doing it.

I never have time to paint the bridges "on location" but with photographs and a sketch journal it is easy to paint the bridge upon return to the art studio. The painting above is of a covered bridge located in Sevier County, Tennessee not too far from the Great Smoky Mountains. We have tracked down covered bridges in Tennessee, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

Here is a short history on covered bridges:
Early bridges were often made of wood, especially where it was a plentiful resource. Wooden bridges tended to deteriorate rapidly from exposure to the elements, having a useful lifespan of only nine years. Covering them protected their structural members, thus extending their life to 80 years or more. Covered bridges were also constructed to be used by travelers during storms and inclement weather.

Most wooden covered bridges employ trusses as their key structural design element. A popular design was the Brown truss, known for its simplicity, but others were also used.


Watercolor Tip for my painting above:
After sketching, I masked in the bridge so that the background could be painted without worrying about getting any sky washes on my bridge. I also masked in the flowers in the foreground to paint the grasses.

2 comments:

Sayit-baldys said...

KAREN, I LIKE RESEARCHING COVERD BRIDGES AND ALSO THE OLD WATER POWERED GRIST MILLS.

WHEN A CHILD I WOULD GO WITH DAD TO THE BIG WATER WHEEL MILL , TAKING A SACK OF EAR CORN WHICH THE MILL WORKER WOULD RUN THROUGH THE CORN SHELLER, THEN POUR THE GRAIN INTO THE GRIST MILL TO BE GROUND INTO MEAL WHILE THE STREAM OF CREEK WATER TURNED THE MILL WHEEL.

IT WAS A HUGE MACHINE CAPABLE OF SERVICING A WAGON LOAD OF CORN IN A COUPLE OF HOURS.

I BELIEVE THAT BEFORE RURAL ELECTRIFICATION BECAME WIDESPREAD IN THE 1930s A FEW OF THE WATER MILL OWNERS HAD BEGAN USING THE WATER POWER TO USE THE AUTOMOBILE SIX VOLT GENERATOR TO LIGHY UP SIX VOLT LIGHT BULBS.

IN THE MID 30s DAD BOUGHT A SIX VOLT 'WINDCHARGER' BY MAIL ORDER AND IT WORKED FINE UNTIL THE 'REA' RURAL ELECTRIFICATION PROGRAM BROUGHT ELECTRIC LINES.
I WORKED ON THE CREWS THAT BROUGHT THE ELECTRIC LINES JUST BEFORE GOING INTO THE AIR FORCE IN WORLD WAR 2.
sam

Nikki said...

Like those in "Bridges of Madison County". So lovely.