Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Rocks and black paper dolls

Above is another Waugh of course. I keep posting his paintings because they are such good examples of seascape. They get me all excited about painting seascape. I hope they do the same for you. Some of you who are out in the Midwest may be zoning out on all this seascape stuff, and I am going to give it a rest soon, and write about something else. But I will return to the subject and do some demos in a couple of weeks. I have to make time to prepare those. I am madly burning the candle at both ends.

Rocks are the other element in seascape. The composition of a seascape is often a designed interplay between the dark rocks and the light sea. The water and sky often function as a single unit . They can be part of the same value area and share a lot of values and colors. Remember back when I was discussing snow painting that I talked about the paper doll idea? It applies here too. If the sea and the sky are in a high value, all of the rocks are laid on top of them, like paper dolls cut from black paper land placed on a light ground. The rocks are essentially silhouetted in front of the water and sky. This isn't always the case but it does happen a lot and seascape painters use this as a design motif. That is another reason why back lighting seascapes is so common.

Here is a photo showing that. All of the rocks are down in a low value, although they do have some lights in them they are all well below the value of the sea. It is easy to lay in the rocks as and interesting series of interlocking darks and then decorate them with some color and value variation to get variety in them. The trick is not to chop them up to much, but keep them unified.

Looking at Waughs work, I believe he often toned his canvas dark at the outset and then painted the water light down onto that, leaving his dark for the rocks. I have experimented some with that and it seems like a good system.


billspaintingmn said...

Stape! Give me a break! I'm from the upper midwest, and I could(can)
go on with this seascape stuff as long as you!
I find it interesting!!
(Always wanted to paint surf!)
I'll bet the coast folks are lovin' it!
Burning candles at both ends takes
practice, you have to imagine you can! Ha!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great lesson on rocks and how they are backlighted. It's interesting that you said that Waugh started with a dark value and then painted his water and lighter values over that. Would the darker values come up through the lighter values eventually in time, though? Sort of like a ghost image?


Unknown said...

I still haven't gotten the Waugh book but am looking forward to sitting down with it and just enjoying. These images you post are so compelling.
Your own award winning painting is equally compelling.
Looks like we might be residents of the arid southwest before summer... so I better practice up on these seascapes now!!
Stape,the big goofy dog I brought to the last workshop here in Jaffrey - you know the one who rolled in slimy green cow poop - got himself porcupine quilled today. Never a dull moment.....

Richard J. Luschek II said...

I can't wait till global warming makes Ohio a coastal town! This information will be very useful.
Like Patty, I always thought it was a bad idea to paint lights over a dark tone, due to the transparent nature of paint? After some landscape painting disasters, I have scraped and wiped down the canvas. I usually end up having a tone on them that is darker than I would like. When I paint on top I always seem to struggle to get some life into it. The dark underpainting seems to suck the life out of it.
How, oh how, does that work?

Stapleton Kearns said...

The policy of this blog is and has been since its inception, no breaks. Not in this economy.

Fill a pail with cold water to which several teaspoons of salt have been added, put your feet in there and sit next to the fan of your air conditioner, which is to be set on cold. You will get much of the experience as you can out there in the Midwest.
Now and then call out with your hand cupped to your mouth, "I thinks she's gonna blow!"
There it is in a nutshell.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I got the question twice so bear with me, I will evade both of you.

Stapleton Kearns said...

You had better take your camera over to the coast and fill it with reference material before your move. You might be very grateful later.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Two of you asked this so I have answered it above.