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Archive for the ‘Seascapes’ Category

Seascape Paintings Ahoy

Monday, January 4th, 2016

A seascape painting brings movement to a still patch of wall in your home, because the sea itself is never still. From the beginning of humans creating art, artists have emphasized capturing a movement in time in the preservation of a canvas. The ever-changing sea challenges all artists as they spend the day painting the sea. Even in the early morning’s calm, the sea is never truly still, as a riffle of wind picks up the surface of the water where a fish leaps for a bug or perhaps to escape a predator below. As the day wears on, the noontime’s heat bakes artist and picnicker as well, blaring the morning’s calm away to the flat torrid sun. Perhaps a mid-afternoon rain squall freshens the air as it turns the sky gray momentarily. Soon afterward, the brisk winds of approaching evening clear the sky once more. The artist rescues his canvas’ fresh paint from gritty blown sand and the painting day closes once more.

A substrata of the seascape painting genre is the moonlit sea, mysteriously gleaming under a half moon and full starlight with a party boat on the horizon, brightly lit with Japanese lanterns and a fireworks show for the midnight revelers. In this way, both Nature and Man are the subjects, each realm affected by and affecting the other: Man tames the night and the sea by artificial light and superb seamanship, and Nature is kind, for once, and forgoes sending a gale to disrupt such lightheartedness. The brightness of a full moon at the apex of the night may illuminate the dark secrets of a night spent at sea, dispelling the fear of the unknown that Man has inherited from his long-ago pioneering seafaring ancestors.

The abstract quality of a seascape will not be overlooked by the discerning art aficionado. Consisting of the curves of a breaking wave rather than the cubism inherent in a cityscape, an abstract seascape painting will delight anyone who takes the time to study the white foam arising from a wave’s spent fury or that same wave backlit by a noontime sun. Even a seagull may be thought of as triangles for wings and a trapezoid for a body, rendered in abstract brushwork to suggest the bird without detailing every pinfeather.

No description of a seascape would be complete without its defining and limited feature, the land. The sea pounds away year after year at the land, which yields a beach or undercut cliff or two upon a winter storm, yet pushes up new land from underneath with tectonic fury to replace the old. It is a relentless dance between the two elements, and the abstract painting blends dark brown tones or lighter, sand-colored hues with the many shades of the azure ocean to depict the epic struggle. If this sounds hectic and unrestful as a subject for a painting, you may remember that seascapes can be peaceful, too, and opt for a painting of a sunny day and calm waters, children shrieking as they race away from an encroaching wave, and a general beneficial mood. Whatever you desire for your seascape, you will have literally oceans of choices when you peruse the galleries of seascapes available to you. Part of the fun is in the shopping, so get busy!

Painting Seascapes Plein Air: The Ultimate Challenge for Any Artist

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

There was no swell or wind. The sky was partly overcast and displayed hints of blue and yellow. The ocean was still and reflected the sky with great clarity. Today, however, conditions were very different as the sea was rough. Big waves were crashing onto rocks and huge amounts of water vapor were rising against the backdrop of dark cliffs.
A challenging subject for any artist.

I was immediately struck by the vivid contrast between the dark rocks and white foam crashing over and around them. Deciding to make this my starting point, I prepared my equipment, secured the easel and began painting Plein Air by brushing on thick white paint for the foam. The dark rocks were spontaneously rendered with a palette knife. There were many rocks and it is the artists job to simplify and rearrange in an order which is pleasing to the eye.

Composition, in my opinion, is the hardest concept to understand and master. I selected large, medium and small rocks and positioned them different distances apart. No two rocks were identical in size or shape, nor were the spaces between them. This use of artist licence by selecting and rearranging the elements in a pleasing order is the essence of composition.

I noticed a lone fisherman on the rocks being harassed by menacing seagulls. In fact there were many seabirds including an eagle which circled above my head then disappeared into the rising seaspray.

The sky was painted next along with the backdrop of dark cliffs and distant ocean. Alternating brush strokes were used to capture the irregular movement of seawater. Inevitably mistakes were made but the paint was thick and manageable so alterations were possible at this stage. Paint was scraped off and slapped on. A little frustration crept in and I found myself painting more freely as a result. This change in method was advantageous as my mood began to reflect that of the ocean.

My emotions changed again as the painting began to take shape. Then just a few brushstrokes in the right place and it was close to completion. I included the fisherman and painted his jacket red. This bright color against a dark blue ocean made for a strong focal point. The finishing touch was applied by balancing the fisherman with the eagle opposite.

Any temptation to mess with the wet paint now could be detrimental and upset the freshness which is characteristic of the Plein Air Technique. Transporting the canvas back to my car was the next hurdle. The use of fast drying oil paints and the application of packing tape around the canvas edges helps with handling. When the tape is removed a beautiful 50mm border will be revealed, which will greatly enhance the artwork when framed.