Sunday, April 11, 2010

Making rocks look wet in a seascape

Above is a photo that shows an effect which can be capitalized on when painting seascapes. Notice how some of the planes both large and scattered along the edges of the rock are reflecting the high key note of the light. That's what makes a rock look wet, that reflectivity. The mass of the rock is quite dark and often gets a blue value across the top, as I pointed out the other day. Now its easy to observe this in the photo. But if you paint this effect in nature and photos and learn how it works you can make it up. You can also install it into a made up painting or add it to rocks in an observed one.

Above is a section of a Waugh using this effect. The planes in the rock facing us are in Stygian darkness, the planes facing towards the light are the rocks color, plus the color of the light. You need to always know both where the light is coming from and what color it is.

The turning edges between the light and the shadow are in highlight.

Its pretty simple. This little effect can be all over a seascape. The little spots of highlight also make crisp accents that enliven passages. All of that sparkle makes a passage lively rather than ordinary and matter of fact. Many effects in painting involve knowing where the light is coming from, what color it is and how the planes in the object are receiving that light.

Above is a painting by William Ritschel an important California impressionist. 1864-1949 Ritschel was an early member of the Carmel art colony, moving there in 1911 after the San Fransisco earthquake and fire. He painted many surf subjects. Ritschel had a home on the water and spent a great deal of time observing the sea and its moods.

This Ritschel is from the Springville Museum of art in Springville, Utah. That's a pretty unusual view of the sea but there are many paintings from the historic Carmel art colony that painted angles like these. Many were done at Point Lobos.


Imola said...

Lovely! Simply lovely!

Manatee Writers said...

I need to look through my pictures and see what I can find to paint with all this new info on seascapes...thanks so much!

billspaintingmn said...

Great post Stape! That last painting really caught me, it seems so real.
I'm enjoying painting, and getting my feet wet with seascapes is fun.(ha)

Carol Nelson said...

I really like your statement about highlights. They almost seem unnoticeable, but it's what gives a painting "sparkle."
I think I have accidentally put them in sometimes and never figured out why some of my paintings have more glow or sparkle to them.
Stephen Quillar, whose work I love,is also good at this.

Sharon Weaver said...

I am just completing a seascape and this post especially addresses the one unresolved area. Thanks so much for the info.

Prairie painter said...

I have really appreciated this series on waves. As a beached coastal-at-heart person, I haven't had much opportunity to study waves, now that I have begun painting. Grew up by the sea, but 36 years on the prairie makes it difficult. A trip to the west coast this summer will have me studying waves big time, and now I hope to look at them with a painter's eye. Thanks for all the pointers.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Checked your your web site. You make me feel illiterate.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There is a real ocean nearby you. Showing in 3D. You gotta see it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

more ice in there, fill your pockets too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The highlight thing works in landscapes etc. not just seascapes.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thank you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Remember that ocean out there is left handed. I think it goes down the drain the opposite direction.