Tuesday, April 6, 2010

More about foam and run offs in seascape

Above is another Waugh. Notice the nice cool tonality that pervades the whole piece. Tonal atmosphere like this was referred to by artists of that generation as "envelope". That would be accented like in French, I suppose it was a studio phrase from when so many of these guys and their teachers generation studied in Paris. Waughs father however was an English portrait painter, Waugh emigrated to this country and spent the last years of his life living in Provincetown.I am going to continue writing tonight about some of the things that go on in the foam. This is usually your foreground or middle ground and will often be an important element in a seascape.

Here is some of the same foam detail as in the picture above. In order=m to paint this you will need to understand the whipped cream ropey look of it well enough to invent it. You will never have just the photographic references you need. You need to analyze how it works and be able to conjure it up using form expressed in values.

Here is another Waugh showing one of the important elements of seascape. After the wave crashes over a rock, it spills off. These run offs are beautiful and provide great compositional devices to lock the sea and rocks together, soften the sea's edges and describe shapes.

Here is a photographic example of the same thing. I will do some demos of how to make these passages in paint. But not tonight!

Here is a good shot of water running off a rock, This is excellent raw material for a seascape. Notice how the water runs down revealing the form of the rocks, and then the foreground rock occludes the view giving it depth and recessing the runoff into the middle ground. Again the skill required is to study stuff like this until you can make it up. You need to understand the principles by which it operates to do that. Then you can build patterns out of it. That is what Waugh is up to in those studio paintings above. This is a vocabulary of effects to be arranged over an abstract substructure.

Here is another great run off shot from Gloucester on the Bass Rocks often called the back shore, Generations of seascapist trained and worked their. It is now all private and virtually all is posted. That is one of the reasons I no longer live in Gloucester, Rockport. I moved their partially to paint seascapes and it has become nearly impossible get to the water anymore. Although Halibut point is still good.


DennyHollandStudio said...

Hammer of the Gods: that's the phrase that comes to mind when I look at Waugh's paintings. My seascape books have started arriving, the weather's getting nice, and SeaStape is getting me pumped to paint the ocean again. Yes!

mariandioguardi.com said...

Here is something I am thinking of here; those photographic images of Bass rocks are beautiful in themselves so if you are going to use them for painting references you really have to offer something in the paint that the images don't give up easily. Color? Movement? Observational surprises? All the above?

Can't wait to see what you do because I know you can do it. It's not just a lesson on seascapes;it's going to be a lesson of going beyond the beautiful photographic reference. Go Stapleton!

(An aside: I know the family whose property was taken by Eminent Domain to give us the Halibut Point we know and love. So appreciate it. 10K is what they got way back when.)

billspaintingmn said...

"Enveloping" I need to understand that better. I want to "envelope"
a tonal atmosphere too!
Also, I'll get a can of whip cream
and maybe some cake, and make a still life seastape to study, Ha, art you can eat!
Practice till you can make it up,
I like that!
(That's what magicians do!)
Very helpful Stape! I know your busy, but please take some time for

Unknown said...

I haven't visited here in a while, and this post alone is a great example of why it's always worth checking out. Understand it enough to invent it. Awesome. Thanks!

Timon Sloane said...

Great stuff. I really love how you decompose a subject. I used to surf, and through this developed an intuitive understanding of the frequency/spacing of waves and the side-to-side breaking movement which I've found useful in the little seascape painting I've done. Do you factor these into your understanding of the sea's anatomy?

Sharon Weaver said...

Sorry that the coast is no longer open to the public. Luckily in CA no one can own the beach so even in Malibu you can walk along the waters edge. Also lots of state parks and cliffs so not as easy to build homes here. Am looking forward to seeing you paint the waves and relate the mechanics with the painting.

willek said...

Great post Stape. Chock a Block full. I'd like to read more about the envelope concept. any sources?

Seems like the envelope is less of a chore with watercolorists. they can just tint the paper and that wil mingle with eveerything laid on top of it. With opaque media it has to be mixed into everything.

Mary Byrom said...

Totally awesome Waugh painting! Reading these wave posts I realize I have been spending years watching waves. Of course now I'm going to spend time painting a lot of wave paintings. Thank you Stapleton.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Water water everywhere, and not a
drop to paint!! I must say, the wind is blowing at 30+ today and our ponds have white caps on them.
I could pretend it was a wave.....

Todays post also delivers a lot of food for the rightbrainer. BTW have you had that Moxie yet? You sound tired...we appreciate you.

barbara b.

Eliza Lynn Tobin said...

Hi Stapleton,
my dad sent me over your way (I'm Eric Tobin's daughter) to check out your blog! I've started an art blog myself a few months ago and have been so inspired by all the artists out there. I love this post on waves, as I just moved to Cape cod and keep finding ocean color and tones weaving their way into my work (although I've moved in a different direction from landscapes). Fun to find you here on the great wide interweb!

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I use them more to inform me on how things work. There is almost never a photo you could point to and say oh! he used this one. The seascape is designed first, then I might use photos to suggest details, but more often to analyze how the effect works.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Bill: envelope is the beginning of the path to tonalism.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wondered where you'd been.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think I know those things but by other names. I have never surfed. Have you ever smoked a cigar?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I know you all have a a lot of great stuff out there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I wonder if he watercolor effect isn't the opposite of envelope. Even if at a glance it looks like it. After all the colors are leaning away from the tone rather than toward it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think you may live in seascape wonderland. I want to come over there and paint with you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am having a nice Moxie as I write.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Hi there! Daughter of Eric the great. About what will you blog?