Ah, another afternoon at the Marina. This was a Sunday painting. I managed to get some extra time this day, and I used every second of it on this piece. This is only the second piece that I’ve done this large, 16″ x 20″ oil on panel. It’s a challenge to begin with, but this one in particular I had to plan carefully, as right when I was setting up, one of the boats in the center of the image set out (the one with the red canopy). I knew that I would be there for at least 5 hours, and the likelihood was great that the owners would return well before I was done, so I gambled and began by working on the elements that were visible, leaving the resolution of that area for last. It paid off. Within an hour and a half they were back and I could continue developing the piece.
Again, an awful lot of interruptions this time. In spite of my look of deep concentration, headphones on, hood up, generally ignoring those who came up to me, there were a lot of questions. I was able to stay focused however, and the adrenaline was kicking as I knew as I went on that the time was short.
I started again by scrubbing in some general areas of under color, then found a few key landmarks and began to resolve the drawing. Using my mongoose flats I started placing tight shapes down, then building up gradually to shape the space.I paid a good deal of attention to cast shadows here, as they really gave the boats their form. As the painting progressed, I would take a liner and put down layers of color for the water. I finished by going over the reflections of the masts and the elements on the pier, then with the last layer of ultramarine and shades of alizarin in the reflections.
I probably could have used another hour on this one, but I had a hard deadline, as I was supposed to meet a student later for a private lesson. I can’t wait to see this framed.Read More
I decided earlier this year that I would paint 50 marina paintings by the end of the season, then perhaps pick the best 30 or so for a show sometime in October, maybe. What follows are some of the keepers.
These paintings are more recent, perhaps the best I’ve done this year. The first was the result of a marathon day of painting. I set out early, thinking I’d get in a quick painting before the thunderstorms rolled in, but they never did. 10 hours later, I was wrapping up this second of two for the day. This is 8″ x 12″ oil on panel, I included a shot of the frame, one of a dozen or so I found at Goodwill and refurbished. I thought the color of the sky worked well on this one, giving a subtle glow to the atmosphere, and after 5 hours of painting I felt I had successfully handled the overwhelming amount of information I was confronted with. This piece was recently accepted into the Richeson Plein Air Exhibition later this summer, a national juried show.
The second painting, 6″ x 8″ oil on panel, from pretty much the same area, facing South instead of East. This was a second attempt, as I wiped down the first. By this time of day, the fog was in and out, and I had to wrestle with the light. There’s a bit of glare on the photograph, but I think this one came out well.
This piece I struggled with, it’s probably the weakest of this group compositionally, but it represents a battle. It was a day full of distractions. I headed down to the South Shore Yacht Club, looking for something interesting, when I came across a boat in dry dock, being sanded free of zebra mussels and corrosion. I had several onlookers come up and interrupt me at critical times. Then a guy parked his big-ass-truck right in front of what I was painting, obscuring most of my view. Really?! Fortunately he left within 25 minutes or so. Then this little interaction:
Old Guy too lazy to get out of his car: [honks his horn] “HEY!”
Me: [Look of consternation] “What?!”
Old Guy: “Are you painting that for Kenny?”
Me: “Who the hell is Kenny?”
Old Guy: “The guy who owns that boat.”
Me: “What boat?”
Old Guy: “The one you’re painting.”
Me: “What?” [Looking back at my painting] “What boat?”
Old Guy: “There, the one right there.”
Me: I didn’t see why I should be the only one aggravated. “What the hell are you talking about?”
Old Guy: [Drives off with a look of consternation]
As it was, I wasn’t painting the boat, I was painting the light reflecting off the boat, and the effect it created when it entered my eye. That’s all we painters can ever do. I think I’m going to have some T-shirts printed up that say “Look if you must, but please don’t interrupt me.”
This one I did on one of our hottest days. I set up late in the afternoon, hoping to take advantage of the long light. The water was electric with reflections and rippled light. I started this piece strictly plein air, trying to be as economical and exact as I could, getting every stroke right in placement, color and temperature. About three hours into the piece, the light suddenly died. Looking back towards the sun, I saw that it was setting quickly behind a large building, far more North than I had anticipated. I probably had an hour and a half of sunlight left. I regret that err on my part, this piece could have been much more refined. As it was, I had to quickly make decisions as to how to finish the piece, relying on values for those things that were silhouetted against the sky. Those relationships did not change very much. In the end it came out well. 6″ x 8″ oil on panel.
This was another piece that required careful drawing. 6″ x 8″ oil on panel. Discouraged by my last attempt, I headed back to the same location, taking a view slightly north of the last piece, determined to get it right this time before the sun went down. Again, the water was excellent for reflections. I started by scrubbing in some under color for the sky, the general area of the breakers and the pier, and then a gradient for the foreground. Then I knife in some landmarks, trying to get some impasto for the highlights, then carefully began placing the rest of the drawing.
These later paintings I’ve been using my mongoose brushes much earlier than normal, taking advantage of their razor sharp tips to put down exacting edges and shapes. Then I went back to some liners to lay down shape on top of shape to let the magic happen, and pull these objects out of the space. I finished with the reflections on the water, building overlapping gradients and dark reflections under the boats. Then I wrapped up by dropping in the lines to the pier, the masts an a few color notes.
Overall the work is getting stronger, and my concentration is developing. I’ll be doing some work from the Milwaukee Sailing Club soon as well.Read More