Few places match the mystique and gentle beauty of the Catskill Mountains. Dotted with old barns and lush with winding streams, the Catskills are a lovely place to paint and enjoy fresh air only two hours from New York City. Thus far I painted four historic bridges in the Catskills. This post presents each bridge along with photos and information on the materials used with the painting.
Stone Arch Bridge in Sullivan County
Simply named Stone Arch Bridge, this three-arched structure was built in 1872 by German immigrants over the East Branch of Callicoon Creek that flows into the Delaware River in Sullivan County. The bridge is surrounded by a 20-acre park that offers a scenic place to picnic, and is open to pedestrian traffic only. It is included in the National Register of Historic Places, and located at the intersection of Route 52 and Route 52A. The bridge is famous for being the location of a gruesome murder of a man accused of sorcery in 1882, and is considered by some to be haunted.
I’ve painted the Stone Arch Bridge several times. This is a great location if no large groups of screaming children show up, which sometimes happens on hot summer days. This did not happen on the cold autumn morning when I painted this plein air scene on facing pages of my Lorenzo Santoni sketchbook. The Fabriano paper Lorenzo uses really takes a beating which is great for multiple washes and correcting mistakes. The paints were Kremer pigments which are available in half or full pans, and have a much earthier feel than tube paints or other brands of dry cakes.
Hamden Covered Bridge
Located in the hamlet of Hamden in Delaware County, this 125 foot structure is built over the West Branch of the Delaware River in 1859. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and still carries vehicular traffic.
Painting this bridge with my dog Winslow on a late fall afternoon was a sublime experience. The sky was totally cloudless and the sun was at my back which saturated the colors. This structure was painted on a two-page spread on a Lorenzo Santoni watercolor sketchbook with handmade Fabriano paper, and Winsor Newton tube paints in a home-made palette constructed from an old metal box. A video of the Hamden Covered Bridge painting in progress is presented here.
Hankins Stone Arch Bridge
This bridge in Sullivan County was built over Hankins Creek in 1905. You can find it on Route 94, in a residential neighborhood not far from where the creek spills into the Delaware River. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to pedestrians only. It is only 40 feet long and was in use until 1973. It is named in honor of John Hankins (1803-1847) who established the first permanent settlement in the area.
I painted this structure in late afternoon on a crisp autumn day on a Hahnemuhle Watercolor Sketchbook which has smooth, durable 200 gsm paper. The bridge was covered in thick foliage and I painted by the stream bed, so there was little sun penetration. Starting with pencil, I used a Noodlers Triple Tail Flex fountain pen loaded with waterproof Platinum Carbon Ink. The first pass with color was done with tube paint set into a home-made palette constructed from an old metal drill box. My second pass was made with gouache using a different home-made palette constructed from an old metal box bought on EBay.
Tappan Covered Bridge
Also known as the Kittle Bridge, this lovely 43 foot long structure is in the town of Hardenburgh in Ulster County, on Erickson Road not far from the town of Arkville. Built in 1870, it crosses Dry Brook, and is one of five covered bridges in Ulster County, but the current structure contains only parts of the original as it has been largely rebuilt. To me, that does not detract from its charm.
I started this painting in the early morning with my dog Winslow accompanying me. I painted on a panel mounted on an Open Box M plein air palette. Winslow didn’t particularly like the experience because the ground was wet and cold, and proved once again that he is mainly a city dog. A video of this painting in progress is presented here.
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