Watercolor: Highland Park Traffic

Highland Park NJ Traffic, watercolor painting by Leora Wenger
I started this watercolor Highland Park Traffic several months ago when we first started our artist group. After a month or two of getting frustrated with the details, I put it aside. I finally decided to finish it yesterday and ignore the details that weren’t clear. So if it looks like the cars are swimming in a river of purple watercolor paint, so be it.

The scene is Raritan Avenue in Highland Park, New Jersey. And often it does look there is a sea of cars swimming on the avenue. Our little borough’s downtown has an old-fashioned look. There are also numerous senior citizens that live in the town. When I took a photo several months ago, I unknowingly captured an older woman with a cane. She reminded me a bit of my father, who walked with a cane in the last months of his life.

I am trying to decide whether to continue with watercolor or delve back into the more time-consuming oil painting. With oils, it is easier to rework parts of the painting. With watercolor, other than careful lifting, it is quite difficult to make changes once one has laid down the heavier colors. And unless you use gouache, there is no white paint, so it is important to leave the whitest whites blank paper.

Question for you: what pops out at you in this painting?

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22 thoughts on “Watercolor: Highland Park Traffic

  • The sidewalk with the woman pops out at me, surrounded by the street lights, the trees lining the sidewalk on the right, and architecture and flag on the left. It is a lovely scene.

    • Thanks for the description of my painting! I will certain revisit the subject matter again, although maybe not this composition. It got a bit busy for me.

  • Of the many elements present, the two trees in the forefront stand out the most to me. They almost look like they are side by side. My eye is also drawn to the figure on the sidewalk, as that is a quieter place in the composition of the picture. Street scenes are fun, but it can be hard to find a focal point. Now that I’m back in Idaho, I will have to tell my art teacher friend about your blog.

    • Interesting that you mention the trees – I didn’t see those as so dominant. It does seem that different people see different elements here.

      I would have said the flag – it seems a different color to me than the rest of the scene.

  • The truck and the red car are what really pop for me – I’m drawn to the color first, and then the subject.

    After, I begin to pick out the actual features of the painting and am able to enjoy the distinct elements, but the first feeling is definitely more of a general impression one.

    It’s a beautiful image Leora, you’re very talented.

    • Ah, you do see a truck! I was fudging a lot with it. That’s one of the dangers of watercolor. You sometimes overwork areas that you don’t mean to spend time on. And the red car one day became red – I was OK with that.

  • Very pretty! I like how the relatively small flag somehow manages to draw attention to itself – in spite of the fact that it’s all the way off on the side of the painting and in spite of all the other colorful elements.

    • Neat that you noticed the flag. I see the Israeli flag in a lot of photographs of Israel. Wondering if I should do my jacaranda with Israeli flag as a watercolor … it would be a simple enough design.

  • I actually didn’t notice the cars as floating. I liked the softness and the purplish pavement. What really did draw my eye was the flag. Overall, very nice effort.

    • I also find the flag stands out. When I put in the remaining paint for the street, I felt like I was making the cars swim in purple and blue paint.

      I’m going for simpler in future compositions.

  • This is a beautiful picture, Leora. I’m not sure why, but for me, even with everything going on, it still feels like a peaceful picture. I think some of it may be that lack of details, allowing the picture to flow from one object to the next (and I like the purple!), as well as the pale sky, serenely hanging above it all, with a few trees swaying in the wind.

    Wonderful job with the flag!

    • Geela, thank you for commenting directly on my blog (so I get to keep your comment like it’s a wonderful present). I’m glad you find it serene. I tried to let the watercolors do the talking for the areas that I didn’t want to over-detail. I guess it worked!

  • Hello Leora! It’s been a while since I’ve visited. I like this painting a lot for its light, delicate feel. The first thing I noticed were the trees and flag; I never even saw the “river” till I read your comment and looked more carefully. I guess the very first impression was of a very pleasing airiness to the composition, and lovely, subtle color.

    • Nice to hear from you, Sara. I suppose “river” is more in my head – it’s also a reaction to getting stuck in central New Jersey traffic. And then maybe an allusion to the next watercolor I plan to post, which actually does have the Raritan River.

    • The woman was my initial focus, but the colors elsewhere, such as in the flag or the truck or the red car, became more prominent as I worked on the painting. Maybe I will do a drawing of the woman separately. Thanks for the feedback, Michelle.

  • Wow, so many things pop out of this photo – it’s beautiful! The trees definitely draw my eye first, and the flag, oddly enough due to its bright colors. Lovely work!

    • Cynthia, so nice to have you visiting again!

      I have another watercolor I need to post – I hope you will come back for that one as well.

      Your comments are greatly appreciated.

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