Friday, September 23, 2011

The Sonoma Coast reorganized

This is the hardest seascape  composition for me. Our spectacular Sonoma Coast is so beautiful to see and SO hard to paint. After all Nature has hundreds of miles to place her stuff and I only have a few inches.

There's a lot to handle, no two shapes should be alike, and each time a rock is placed it affects all the others, the logical mind wants to line up all the edges, points the ends, and forgets perspective, and then that makes the shapes between like runways. Notice everything in Nature is different, no 2 leaves an a tree of thousands is exactly alike, and neither are the rocks. Our eye is always after novelty an grows bored very easliy, so on a painting it's important to keep that variety. Every time a rock is placed it means carefully looking to see how it affects the overall space relationships. There are 19 rocks in this work each took quite some time to get the shape and exact place it needed to be.

There is  a lot to get right, and only practice can give the painter the skills needed to do it.

In the first drawing you see the orange pastel pencil I use to compose, it easily rubs off for changes.
Next is the bright underpainting that helps me check out the shapes over all
Then the rocks are blocked in

And finally  the painting is fully blocked in the local colors and values. Now I'll let it dry and do the final details which I will post later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Alexander Harrison

In my quest to become a seascape painter I've searched back through time to find the very best examples of the genre. I have lots to share as we go.... today  it's Alexander Harrison, an Am. Tonalist painter of great repute in his day. In particular one painting called The Wave.  You can enlarge the link I gave, but what we can't get is the real impact. The painting is 40 inches high(99.7 cm) by almost TEN FEET long (299.7) Can you imagine the experience this must give you! Even in the poor internet reproduction you can see the amazing subtle colors he's captured in the overcast light I love so much...Here are just a few things to appreciate and for painters to learn from.

Horizion line
notice how it changes across the work, nowhere is it hard, which would flatten the space, and in some places it's obscured altogether,

Lead ins. 
notice how he leads our eye into the painting with the little wavelets and on a more subconscious level with the reflected darks of the wave in the foreground wet sand linking us to the dark of the wave.

Gradated color/value shifts.
In the sky, a deeper value fog is played off against the light on the water on the right side of the painting, if the sky tone had not shifted that light would not glow so much

The wave itself is pure magic, notice how much he varies the top line, the intervals of dark water and lighter foam, the dimension of the foam and the treatment of the bottom edge shadows and reflections into the water below.

I will be doing some small studies based on some of his paintings. This is how I'm teaching myself seascape painting. I have a few good books by E John Robinson, and one by Roger Curtis, most of the others out there have not been useful to the way I want to paint. But I've learned much more, once past the basics, from study of the great painters who've gone before me.  They are not painters on the radar of the art world anymore, except maybe Homer, but in their day were greatly respected and well known.

more links for Harrison the way to find all his work on the internet, some have large files

and on American Tonalism, (Harrison was a Tonalist) the only home grown Americn art movement, that crashed when Impressionism came along. The paintings are very quiet and subtle and have an intentional spiritual quality. Tonalism has a great influence on my current work as the quality of light along the N. California coast, is that way in nature.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wave Eye View

One of the new friends I've made with this blog sent me a link to a photographer who lives in Hawaii
Clark Little I love the photos and what it encourages me to do is add more color to my waves. I see it very fleetingly out there but the freeze action of the photo lets me see how much more there is. So I can use my Artistic License( #4736 issued to me for a lifetime)  to add more. Of course the water in Hawaii is a very different situation than here along the No California coast. I lived on the Big Island for 3 years( so blessed to be there before a huge amount of development took place) the color and light here make it a different animal all together.

My new friend and I love waves and chase them along the Sonoma Coast, and someday we might meet out there. I'll post what he shares with me as we go along. Friday is supposed to be a big wave day, so I'll be out there. Enjoy!