This week I wanted to share another Joseph painting. This was in the first few days, but it's much more complicated than the first one. There's some wet into wet work (the far cranes, and the foreground water), and a variety of small, individuated shapes (the boats), that need to interlock. There's glazing, but less of it. So, technically speaking, all around a more sophisticated image. Let's jump right in! :)
So, this is the sketch. I share it to note how it has a number of differences from the final image. In particular, the background is far paler and more diffuse in the painting, highlighting the sense of depth. Additionally, Joseph adds in a number of pylons and whatnot, and really pushes the reflection of the fishing structure- this helps bond the different shapes and areas together. There are also far more masts in the photo- Joseph takes the ones he likes, and uses them for compositional purposes, framing the people, and weaving together the background and midground. This reminds me of the critique of own of my own Santa Cruz paintings, where I was using weeds in a similar way, but had too many- fewer of them (chosen and located judiciously) would have let them be better framing tools.
First goes in the sky, down to the horizon. It looks like just water up top, but if you scroll back up to the completed painting (where the paint has been removed, and you can see the comparative white of the paper that was protected there) that it's actually a pale wash everywhere. it's it goes the grey closer to the horizon. A tiny waiting game occurs, and then...
the cranes and whatnot go in, wet into wet. I'd bet money that he used a synthetic here, because it carries less water, and can make controlling wet-into-wet work easier. Notice also how he puts little bits and pieces in the distant water, to help weave the two shapes together, and avoid a hard line.
Now he does the big wash on the bottom. Notice how the bottom wash is separated from the top- this lets him do that wet into wet work, and have a controlled edge. Similarly, it's going to let him do wet into wet work for the water, and control it too, so it won't bleed upwards. These sorts of logistical details aren't very sexy at all, but thinking about how you're going to build the painting (before you start) is one of those things that will help you build more sophisticated images. So, once again, he does the wash, waits just a tiny bit...
and drops in the first wash of wavelets, wet into wet. This is pretty easy to screw up if you've not done it before! You can't have too much water on your brush, or you'll make blossoms. The goal is for it to softly diffuse into the existing wash, but still slightly retain its shape. This will help give the water an undulating body of highlights and shadows.
Now that the top has dried, he goes back in and does the next glaze/shape. You can tell things are basically dry, because the structure and dock have hard edges. Within the shape of the building though, things are wet into wet, like the windows, and the connection between the roof and the shadowed wall.
Finally, the boats and rippling shadows go onto the water. This probably should be two photos, but I don't have them, so we get what I've got. In truth, the boats and their rippling shadows are one shape anyways. He would paint the boat shape, and then catch the edge of it (while still wet) and pull it softly down into the shadow area, bonding the two shapes together.
The boats were hard for me, like how the cows were. I'd never painted them before, and had to learn how to "decode" them. They have hard edges, but are wet into wet inside their own shape. They also interlock and overlap each other some, with hard edges at those points- this takes practice as well. Of course, he had special input on the waves, but that's all long forgotten!!! Sorry folks! :P
And here's the final piece again. A simple, beautiful sketch. Thanks JZ. :)