Thursday, March 25, 2010
About seascape painting.
The above painting is by Fredrick Waugh. Waugh was Americas finest seascape painter (in my opinion). There is seascape before Waugh, and that looks one way, and seascape after Waugh and that looks another way. No one paints seascape seriously today without having looked long and hard at Waugh. When I refer to seascape I generally mean surf pictures. Pictures where the sea meets the shore.
There were other painters who painted the sea, Homer was more artistic but Waugh did so much of it and so little of everything else that I think he gets the medal. William Trost Richards is another, here's a Richards below.
Making seascapes is generally done in the studio. Studying seascapes outside provides the raw materials. One of the reasons for this is that painters often want to show the surf from a position down in the action, that often gives exciting lines and perspectives. It also would require the artist to be set up in a place where the incoming wave will smash over him and his equipment.
lot of seascape painting is abstract. A seascape is as close to abstract painting as traditional painting gets. The sea obeys certain rules, it has an anatomy, but that still leaves lots of room for arrangement.
Copying photographs of the sea doesn't work as well as you might think . The anatomy of the sea needs to be expressed, like the anatomy in a figure. In order to paint the sea effectively you need to be able to show you know how it works. My old friend Charles Vickery used to call that hydraulics. I will begin laying out some of that anatomy in tomorrows post.