Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Google Landscape

I had a major revelation the other day while considering places to paint on the Ohio river. This idea could change the world of landscape painting as we know it. It's huge.
Google now can help with your landscape painting!
I have been doing a lot of painting so far this spring in the hopes of creating paintings that are more than just a 'vignette under a tree'. I want to do paintings that are more impressive and manly. Pictures that have some hair on their legs, if you know what I mean. Paintings that are planned out, iconic Cincinnati landscapes.
After a winter buried in snow, we have been blessed with wonderful weather this spring. I much prefer the sun and warm weather, so it was good to emerge from  studio hibernation and get outside with my french easel. Often the first few painting trips outside are a struggle, but so far I can finally say I feel comfortable plein air painting.
Here is my first landscape of the season painted on a square canvas.

High Waters of Spring (this is a working title), Oil on canvas, 18" x 18"

This is the suspension bridge painted from the Kentucky side. The river was pretty high from the rain.  There is normally a sidewalk where the tree shadows are. I spent two days on location. I wanted to go back one more time, but a few cloudy days kept me away. By the time it was sunny again, the river receded, the bridge was closed for painting, and they ended up covering large parts of it with tarps, so I just finished up in the studio.
 Here is my easel with some Canadians that stopped by for a gander at my painting. 

Since that was such a lovely experience,  I was wondering if there are any other cool spots along the river that may be off the beaten path. So I started looking around using google maps. You probably know that in satellite mode you can just follow along roads by using that thing that looks like Mickey Mouse's gloved hand to drag yourself along.

I started by just typing Cincinnati, Ohio into Google. I did some screen shots of my computer desktop to show you how this works.

I zoomed in to get to the spot where the above bridge painting was done. If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse you can zoom in that way, or just use the magnifying glass on the upper left of the image. As you scroll in, it sometimes switches automatically to street view (if not, you can often select street view by double clicking on a road), then you can look around and move down the road as if you are in a car. I got it close to the spot where I painted the above picture and here we are.

As you can see, this is close to my spot. The image shows the river much lower, but you can still look around to see what else is going on. Can't exactly compose a painting with it, but you can find something worth visiting.
I scrolled out to get to the satellite view, and moved down the river till I found something that I thought might work. I scrolled in again, and found this view. Is that cool or what?

Even though movement is limited to the roads, I can see this is a nice view of the Cincinnati skyline. I can tell there are plenty of spaces to set up an easel and the road is easily accessible. I can then just click 'get directions'  and I have a possible location. Google is not yet able to transport you there, but I am sure that is just around the corner.
The street view feature really only works if some Google nerds have driven their fancy street view camera van down that particular road. Some remote locations are not going to work till the vans start driving in the boonies. You will just have to scout things out the old fashion way- by driving there, getting out of your car and hiking around. Satellite view may at least hint at some places worth driving to.

I thought you might find this useful if you are looking for scenic spots to paint. Travel around in google maps for a while.
On a side note, it is also a way to see if any of your neighbors have a backyard pool so you can start being nice to them and maybe get invited over for a pool party.

Here is another painting I did last week of Mt Adams found the old fashion way.

Early Spring in Mr Adams, oil on linen, 10" x 18"

No comments: