Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lots to Consider

While I was designing this composition, I had so many things to think about.  The accuracy of the drawing, the placement of the boats, the size of the boats, the number of boats, the color contrast.

l.  Papa, Mama, Baby.  The size of the boats.

2.  Obliques supply the action.

3.  On the thirds:  The "star" boat.

4.  The modeling of the sails.

5.  The muted colors.

6.  The rhythm of the water as told by the swing of my brush.

7.  How much detail to include to tell the story of the rigging without overdoing it.

I often tell my students to avoid the temptation to depict waves and reflections with hard, parallel lines.  Also, white sails are often darker than the sky, and the sky doesn't always have to be blue.  In this case, it would have been too jarring and would drag your eye up where I didn't want it to go.  I left the sky white until the very end, and then just used dirty water to hint at some distant clouds.

I love the design of Friendship sloops.  Meant for hauling freight, they nevertheless have a gracefulness, especially in the lovely curve of the bow.  I'll be painting more of them very soon.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Afraid of the Dark

Nothing says sunlight like the inclusion of some really bold darks in a painting.  Oftentimes, my students are afraid of glazing a very dark value over an area for fear of ruining their painting, when actually it might enhance it.

The good news is that, because watercolor dries lighter than the wash looks when it is wet, the addition of a dark shouldn't be so frightening. 

At a certain point in my artistic development, I would often get to a stage in a painting where I thought all was lost.  That is when I discovered the power of adding a dark.  I thought, what do I have to lose?  In many cases, the dark would provide just the "punch" that was needed.

Be bold in the lights and midtones, and fearless when adding darks!

This is a scene that is familiar to everyone on the Boothbay peninsula.  The Civil war statue and the town office are part of the very quaint center of the town of Boothbay.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Avoiding Monotony En Route

Edgar Whitney urged his followers to "avoid monotony en route."  A straight, unbroken line is monotonous, and needs to be broken up.  In this painting of an old dory beached under a tree, the far shore line is broken by the interruption of two sailboat masts.  The bottom of the dory forms another line, but it is broken by buckets and buoys intruding into the shape of the boat. 

Drawing boats is simplified if you think of the figure 8 on its side.  The far side of the boat is more or less a straight line while the curve of the hull occurs on the side nearest you.  Also, watch where the lines intersect and how they slant. 

Overlapping is one of the best ways to achieve atmospheric perspective.  The closer the plain is to you, the darker it becomes.

There is so much to think about when you contemplate a painting.  The real fun begins when you can anticipate the problems before you start to paint!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


I have a hard time accepting commissions because the customer usually has a preconceived idea of what the painting will look like.  Despite the fact that they have identified with my style of painting, they seem to expect an illustration of their chosen subject.  Details become more important than anything else in the painting.

But when I got an email asking if a certain painting I did a couple years ago was for sale, I had to tell the potential buyer that the painting had already been sold.  I offered to try to re-create the painting with the caveat that it would not exactly duplicate the original painting.  She agreed. 

I liked the assignment because I was familiar with the subject, and thought I could reasonably approach the painting process with confidence that I could reproduce the same mood and composition in the original.

The client liked the result.  I was pleased because I thought I made several improvements to the original work.  The painting is now on its way to the client who intends it as a wedding gift to her son and new daughter-in-in law who will celebrate their small wedding on the site of this lake in Maine.

Know what you can offer in commissions and what you are able to compromise to complete the project. 

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Painting in a Series

In this painting, I worked from a sketch that I made of Jackson Falls in New Hampshire.  I've done several waterfall paintings lately.  Painting moving water is a challenge.  But waterfalls are fairly consistent and allow for study.  Besides, I love standing near them and listening to the pounding water.

I painted the water first.  It was the focal point, the largest shape in the composition, and the lightest shape.  Study the shape and you'll see that it interlocks with the rocks on shore, making it an irregular shape. 

Finding a subject that appeals to you can solve the problem of what to paint when you can't think of anything else to paint. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy 4th of July!

To celebrate the Fourth of July, I just had to paint the flag.  This one is proudly displayed at a cottage on Ocean Point.  Happy Independence Day, Everyone!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Achieving the Feeling of Sunlight

Contrast is the key to achieving the portrayal of sunlight.  The feeling of light falling on the landscape can best be highlighted by the shadows surrounding it.  Many painters become timid when painting cast shadows and don't paint them dark enough.  The values then don't contrast enough and result in a tepid portrayal of the light.

Another consideration is to place the biggest contrast strategically.  If the darkest values extend everywhere, the eye will wander around the painting.  Consider gradating the darks so that the contrasts diminish.

Happy Fourth of July!