Recent Nautical Work

quarter sheet saunders waterford, 11" x 15"

quarter sheet saunders waterford, 11" x 15"

I often joke that boats sell paintings, and that if I just painted more of them I'd make more money.  But by chance, I've actually recently been painting a few more nautical subjects than normal.  Haha!  This first one is from Benicia.  It's on a quarter sheet (11" x 15") of Saunders Waterford, done without any tape, but instead sprayed on the back with water and "attached" to the board through water tension- a new technique that I learned in a workshop with Herman Pekel this last August (more on that in upcoming posts!).  Here's the reference photo and the final painted image for comparison. 

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We were driving home and my darling wife pulled over and chilled out for 10 minutes while I took a bunch of photos.  Ha!  That's love!  Note how I brought the light around the distant hills, as well as brought the sail boat closer to me.  In another photo at the same location, the palm on the right featured more prominently, so I took it and scootched it over to better frame the image.  Artistic license!  :D

These last few months I've also been getting out and doing more plein air work than normal.  Good friends, some sunshine, and an opportunity to pay focused attention.  My kind of gig!  We've been meeting up down around Alameda and Jack London Square in Oakland, and there are lots of nautical subjects down there.

This one is from Alameda, looking back at the Oakland hills with the Coats Guard in front. I shared it incidentally in August.

half sheet of Arches, 15" x 22", plein air

half sheet of Arches, 15" x 22", plein air

Once again, some artistic license was taken.  The red sail boat was actually there, but at a different time.  I used a photo to paint it in, in the location I liked best.  I also liked the story it began to tell, with the comparison of the two boats.  Comparisons are a powerful silent compositional tool.

This third one was painted over by Jack London, looking back at Alameda. 

quarter sheet saunders waterford, 11" x 15", plein air

quarter sheet saunders waterford, 11" x 15", plein air

I wish I had a photo of the view, because the most important part was how very very far I had to zoom in.  There was a ton of junk between my location and the boats, but I zeroed in on what I wanted to paint, and left out the rest.

This last one was done earlier in October.  It's plein air at Jack London, where they had this tall ship (Lady Washington).  I saw it after painting the boats up above, and immediately knew I wanted to paint it.  All that rigging is crazy, and a lovely opportunity for endless calligraphy!!! LOL.  I was curious about the challenge.  Here's the boat, and the piece as it looked after I had just finished it-

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However, almost immediately after I was done I was dissatisfied.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it all seemed sort of washed out.  Cleo noted that the sky was very washed out in my painting, and that it was a much richer blue in reality.  I really liked this thought.  It also occurred to me that by darkening both the upper and lower thirds of the painting, I could strengthen the sense of depth along the horizon. 

After I got home, I rewet the back, slapped it on the board, and figured "screw it."  A glaze like this normally doesn't phase me much, but I'd already dropped in my rich darks, in particular up top, around the rigging and such, and so was concerned about bleeding.  But I wasn't totally satisfied with the painting.  What's the point in keeping it around, if I wished I'd gave it another go and done it better?  So I a wash of richer Ultramarine Blue from the top down, cutting around the boat sails and the flag, gently diluting it more and more as I approached the horizon.  There, I cut around the boat itself, but dropped in the blue again down towards the foreground, with a soft application of water over the white reflections to keep my edges soft.  This is what I got-

 
half sheet of saunders waterford, 22" x 15"

half sheet of saunders waterford, 22" x 15"

 

Not the Mona Lisa, but a marked improvement nonetheless.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.