Saturday, April 3, 2010

Rembrandt's crucifixion and more about surf

Rembrandt courtesy of

Below is the scripture from the book of Mathew;

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"When some of those standing there heard this, they said, "He's calling Elijah."Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, "Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to save him." And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

Above is a breaking wave, Last night we look at the beginning of this process, here is the classic view that seascape painters so often paint. The wave has broken, that is, the water from the back of the wave, moving faster than its slowing front wall has rushed over the front and fallen against the face and base of the wave. The water explodes into foam. Look at the left hand break and notice a few things. The water curves down in a semicircle. On that edge as it hits the face of the wave it begins to convert to foam in ever increasing amounts. As more and more water reaches the base of the wave it creates ever larger and often globular masses of foam. Below is a Frederick Waugh ( a devout Christian incidentally ) showing this in paint.

Waughs knowledge of the anatomy and form of the wave makes the anatomy of the breaker clear. It is so much better than the photo. This is an example of the problems encountered by those who try to copy a photo to make a seascape and the limitations of that. Because of the enormous size of the waves Waugh has shown the foam purposefully sliding down the face of the oncoming wave. He has characterized the globs into which the foam erupts to show the shapes that it takes. It looks thick like whipped cream.It has volume and weight. Behind the foam, is the back of the wave driving forward, and to the left behind that, we see the foam that has passed over the back of the advancing wave. Notice how the foam "grows" at the bottom of the semicircle as more and more water cascades down the front of the wave. Waugh has the whole thing backlit, that is something seascape painters love to do. This lighting shows up the form of the wave best, see how the foam is divided into light and shadow, just like on a figure or still life.

The second smaller wave over to the left shows another interesting thing about waves. the water breaking over the front is in an up plane and lives in the world of the light. That's important. That passage will often progress into the shadow on its way to the foam. The broken patterns of the foam from a previous wave are formed as the growing wave stretches it and tears elongated semicircular holes in it as the mass of the water increases. It is still functioning like a skin stretched over the orb of energy below the surface. Unlike the water though, the foam doesn't stretch very well, so it tears into holes and tatters. These foam patterns show the shape and planes of the rising face of the wave.

This is a powerful and extremely original design. It is arrangements like this that make Waugh so extraordinary.


Unknown said...

Excellent series.
I spent a year or so with Loren Adams on Maui, his wife ended up kicking me out of the studio (claimed she didn't want to train the competition, and the strain almost ended my marriage).
I was fortunate to spend a week with E. John Robinson a couple years later. During that time my wife had an affair with one of the sales men at the Wyland Galleries in Laguna (water under the bridge) but the ensuing divorce ended my painting for awhile.

Then a couple months ago I finally, after about a 9 year break, set up my studio and start painting seascapes again.

Then my condo burns up....

Stape, you think painting seascapes is bad luck?

Unknown said...

BTW, check out the seascapes before Loren became a freaky new age surrealist, I think he's still one of the greatest living seascape painters, and certainly had a huge influence on the Hawaiian market.

Robert J. Simone said...

"Dying He destroyed our death, Rising He restored our life..." Happy Easter!

Funny story: I was giving a workshop this week and one student was very interested in the seascapes I brought. She was asking a lot of questions. I suggested that she study the works of Frederick Waugh. She replied, "Oh yes, we own two of his paintings. I study them all the time."

DennyHollandStudio said...

You're right about light and shadow playing a role in the wave- so many painters forget to darken the shadow side of the foam, thinking,"Well foam is white, there wouldn't be any gray in it..." then it turns out flat and white.
Thanks for these posts!

billspaintingmn said...

Simone, well put! Thanks!
Stape, Rembrandt's crucifixion has
all the drama and feeling I could imagine from reading scripture.
I'll use that same imagination to construct a surf painting, with your helpful information, Thanks!
Denny, good obsevation, I'm guity
of that..
Michael,sounds turbulant, almost a seascape in itself.
Stape, I'm pretending to be you,(ha) do these pearls match my (cough.. hack/wheeze..) I can't smoke cigars, sorry.
Seriously Stape, I want to thank you for all your efforts and wisdom you have shared with us. It has given me a sense of hope that I might not have had.
Happy Easter!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Michael: Sounds like you need to take up still life. What a terrible thing to have your condo burn. Rockwell;s studio burned once taking a lot of art with it.
He didn't paint seascape so......

Stapleton Kearns said...

Simone. What other artist that was absolutely the best at what he did is priced so reasonably?
Happy Easter, Simone.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Snow painting and painting foam and spray have a lot in common.

Stapleton Kearns said...

There is much more on seascape yet to come. SOMEBODY asked for it, I remember.The best stuff is coming.
Happy Easter.

Unknown said...

happy easter, Stape and everyone.
My littlest grandbaby was just released from the hospital after a tough battle with H1N1... so we are definitely feeling happy and blessed.
thanks for that wonderful Rembrandt.

barbara b. land of boz said...

Happy Easter Stapleton and Kathleen
We have much to be happy and thankful for. Just spent the week with my oldest son, and a few wonderful days with 2 of the 9 grandchildren.

After reading the posts on seascapes I almost feel like I'm back in the workshop. You have been given not only the gift of being an artist, but also the gift of being a great teacher. The best part of this is that you made a choice to share it. Thank You!

May the peace of the Lord be with you and yours.

Deb, good news about your grandbaby.