Thursday, April 1, 2010

The moving orbs of energy beneath the waves

Above is a crude illustration showing how waves are "powered". Far out at sea, wind and tides acting upon the water causes orbs of stored energy to roll beneath its surface. These orbs move below the surface of the water and are elliptically shaped. As they roll forward, the water passes over them like a slippery skin. The orbs don't really carry the water forward but move smoothly beneath it, lifting it as they pass beneath the surface. A toy boat thrown onto the surface of the water will be lifted and then pass over the back of the wave rather than being moved decidedly forward by it.The same happens with the smaller wavelets (called secondarys ) on their surface, which are lifted with the skin of water and then ride up and then over the backs of the waves. In between the rolling orbs are the troughs of the waves.

These orbs lean forward at the top as they move. As these orbs of energy near land and their bottoms touch the sea floor, they lean evermore forward and rise higher in the water. As their bottoms are slowed by the contact with the sea floor their leading edge becomes even further ahead of their bottoms and the water on their backs rushes over their tops as a breaker. More on that next.

Waves out on the open ocean don't break like they do at the shore, but carry the foam on their tops and often pass under it, and leave their crests of foam behind, trailing it down their backs. Out on the open ocean they are often called rollers. Rollers become breakers at the shore in shallow water.

8 comments: said...

I always felt is I had the time and sat there diagramming waves, I could figure this out. But I have a friend who has taken the pencil out of my hands when I am diagramming drawings. But if I invoke the name Stapleton Kearns, I can usually get away with a lot more, as in "Stapleton Kearns draws with a pencil".Thanks for the ilustration.

Big revelation! Judy tells me that my used Carlson copy is most likely the original version which reads like high Victoriana pontification. Apparently there is a a revised edition which I can try reading along with Dunkin Donuts coffee (and a donut).

Unknown said...

Using the infinity sign, stretched, elongated, shorted, bent and twisted will help give the wave(s) & rollers a realistic look and will give a nice base for foam (even if it's just subtle brush marks).

This elongated figure eight works in both the under drawing, base coat and is a great brush stroke if you're trying to get the "no brush stroke" look to the blending of the transparent face of the wave.

It works in miniature, wavelets, and also you can use it to form a wave coming up to the beach with the stretched out middle forming the shape of the trough.

Unknown said...

Whew! For just a second there I thought this was a photo of our back yard where the car was parked.
You know it's bad when the squirrels are in little tiny canoes out there.
Really, this is just the coolest, Stape. Some of this I sort of knew, but this diagram really packages it up all nice and neat and I get it!
If I could post pictures in the response here, I'd have drawn in the little painter guy squashed under those orbs with his Gloucester easel floating out to sea because he got just a little too close to those waves. There goes a tube of cad yellow now.....
Marian, It might take something more like Starbucks for your Carlson.... and then you'd have to upgrade to a scone...

CM said...

Stape, I have "Painting Successful Seascapes in Oil" by Roger Curtis edited by Charles Movalli. It is a decent book and it talks about Design and Composition. He dedicates the book to his brother, his teacher and your hero Aldro T. Hibbard. He writes "to Aldro Hibbard who showed me that the knowledge of fundamentals is the most essential part of painting" The drawback is that the book is mostly in black and white.
I visited his studio in Boston a long time ago where a friend of mine was taking his class. A very sweet and soft spoken man.
I think E.J. Robinson does a good job of teaching the anatomy of a wave. But one of the best ways to learn is to sit on the rocks and just look and look and look. And then look and look some more.
Corinne McIntyre

Stapleton Kearns said...

I have the old edition as well as the new one. The old contains more material and it may be that the Readers digested version is an easier read. The new version is the one that is easy to buy and I think it is excellent.
I do draw with a pencil, but I am happiest drawing with a brush.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am not sure I can picture what you mean. I guess maybe I have an idea. About the middle being the trough. Wish I could see you demo that once.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am glad it explained the idea well because it is one of the ugliest things I have made in a long time.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I will have to find a copy of that. I know David Curtis his son who is an excellent painter. I met his father once about 30 years ago. Roger ran Hibbards shop in Rockport for I think, a long time.I remeber him having a very fine collection of the best and largest Hibbards in his home at that time.