Above is last nights Gruppe again. A commenter mentioned how dark the transoms of the boats and several other shadowed portions of this painting were. They do seem real dark and I am not sure if that is the reproduction or the way the painting really looks. I have seen a number of different versions of this painting. Gruppe returned repeatedly to a place and made the same or a similar picture many times.
Here is the big zig-zagging design that leads you into the picture. It takes you out of the foreground shadow, past the illuminated boat that is the big punchline and out into the distance. Gruppe put this here on purpose. The ice in the foreground may have been suggested this treatment but you can be certain Gruppe installed that big zig-zag. Incidentally I know and have painted this location, in Gloucester, on Rocky Neck. Very little of the old Gloucester waterfront that Gruppe painted still remains. I am glad I saw the last of the wooden draggers there, which are now all gone.
This entire painting is also filled with inward pointing arrows. Here is an illustration of them. All of them give commands to the viewer, "right this way, please" That red building in the background is the only thing he has delineated for us to look at, so it is important. Look at this tactic he uses......
Everything on the left hand side of the picture (1) is in front of everything on the right hand side (2).
That is an effective way of establishing depth in the painting. The objects on the left are in close and those on the right are out in the middle ground. The contents of this picture march inwards starting from the lower left. This oblique procession is the opposite of a fault I often point out in student work, where the entire painting marches across the picture from one wall to the other, equidistant to the viewer like a frieze. This is using design to establish depth. Also everything on the left hand side of that diagonal division is in the shadow, and that to the right of the divider is in the light. The picture has about 2/3 of its visual weight on one side of that line and 1/3 on the other. An artistic balance of unequal elements.
The size of his marks decreases as they go into the background. He tells us very little about what is going on back there, allowing us to fill in the details.
Gruppe has also linked a lot of the darks, particularly in that foreground. Squint down and see how they are joined. He then has thrown one nice chunk of dark against the light of that boat on the right. That is a nice touch that gives the area drama.