Thursday, November 14, 2013

Painting At The Historic Daniels & Fisher Tower in Denver

This past September I was given the opportunity to paint from the observation deck on the 14th floor of the Daniels and Fisher Tower in downtown Denver.  Built in 1910 and modeled after St. Mark's Bell Tower in Venice, Italy, the D&F tower was the tallest structure between the Mississippi and California for decades.  

This observation deck is not open to the public but a generous supporter of the arts has offices in the building and extended this offer to a handful of artists.

I arrived at 8AM and stepped out onto the three foot wide balcony for a wonderful view of downtown Denver.  This deck wraps all the way around the building, allowing me to choose from several views.  It was clear, however, that the soft, cool morning light streaming between the buildings and the atmosphere that builds as your eye travels up the long street was what I wanted to capture.

The street in the painting is 16th and it is closed to cars.  Instead, trees are planted down the center with nice, deep sidewalks down either side and in the middle, under the trees.

I brought several different shaped panels to paint on but felt this 20"x10" format was the best fit.  Compositionally, I used the long, dark rectangle on the's a building of course, but for my painting I left it as a single dark tone with only a few suggestions of windows and ledges.  This framed the street, gave scale to the buildings and contrasted with the light and detail in the street.  Likewise, the distant buildings are suggested tonally but without detail.  These distant buildings create an interesting shape and blend with the sky to build the feeling of atmosphere.  The corner of the rooftop in the lower left points the view into the picture.  From there the delicate shapes of light take your eye on a journey up the street.  People walking, the colored awning and details on the building facades on the right give us some places to stop and look at more closely.  It is a city waking up, people enjoying a quiet walk and merchants setting up for business.

The View!

These are the artists I painted with from left: Mikael Olson, Ken Valastro, Cheryl St John, Terrie Lombardi.  Click their names to check out their art.  We were having a toast with our wine served up in bowls since we forgot glasses!  Wine in bowls, pizza, and a day of inspired painting with wonderful people....I'm blessed!

"View of 16th From The D&F Tower" - ©Scott Ruthven
20"x10" Oil on canvas panel 2013

And, as if the painting experience wasn't wonderful enough, the painting was juried into the 2013 Colorado Plein Air Arts Fest (The country's largest urban event of its kind) where it won the "Prudent Man, Award of Excellence" and sold on opening night!

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  1. Lovely painting. It has a great composition with nice graphic contrasts. Congratulation on both the award and the sale.

    1. Thank you Roger. The cityscape would be well suited for your style I bet!

  2. Scott that was a very cool painting. Great post, I like how you handled the buildings more as elements of color rather than handle all the detail of them. The painting came out very nice. Congrats on the award and sale!


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