Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Portland Head light beak avoidance and obligue form recession diagram

Here is the light house I painted the other day. This photo was taken in the late afternoon and I made the painting in the morning and noon hour but you can get the general idea . Below is my painting and below that a numbered diagram that I will use to discuss beak avoidance. I have written before about beaks here.. The actual site is wicked beaky.

Here's what is going on at each of those numbers.

  • #1, is the main beak area, I have minimized it by making it about the same value as the water around it, I dropped the contrast in the area to make the beak shape less assertive. There is also a camouflaging pattern of shadows and accents that break up the form and outline of the beak. There are accent values in the surf at its feet that also draw attention back and away from its sharp point.

  • #2, I pushed this shape up so it overlaps the form behind it, that reduces it's knife edged beakyness, and I also made it low contrast next to the water. The cracks in the rocks are sweeping away from the beaks vector, hopefully again overpowering it's beaky point, and distracting the viewer from that.

  • #3, The most distant beak was clustered or paired with the #1 beak. I made them into a single unit, again I downplayed it's value contrast with the water around it. So I could then.....

  • Make #4 a large bright attention getting area that gives the viewer something more assertive inn the area to look at instead of those evil beaks. This is the headliner of this little ensemble, not the beak structures. Again I am calling attention to a different area nearby instead of the beaks, by distraction. This large light area and the light house itself are clustered together as parts of the largest brightest shape in the painting.
Something else is going on in this picture too. I have "stacked" all of the receding planes in the rocks back into the picture, at a diagonal starting at #5. This gives me a clear progression back into my painting. This is recession through drawing. Everyone learns about recession through value change, or atmospheric perspective. But often it is a slick trick to establish your recession by bending the drawing a little to tell your visual story. Almost no one ever notices this blatant slicing and dicing, by the way.


colleen said...

I saw the first post on Beaks, and was so grateful you brought it up I'd notice the problem in my seascapes, but not consciously figured it out, it remained a sort of felt thing till I read your post, and I did see some of what you'd done in the painting here, but not that 5 degree recession thing. Big thanks! said...

Very educational. Grazie mille. Just to let you know that I don't just read you blog, I am actually learning something. I decided to tackle the green landscapes of my back yard. One does use a lot of red up making those natural looking greens!

Libby Fife said...

Just in a general way the rocks, beaks, and water seem more integrated as a whole to me than the photo.

I wanted to mention also that I live near Sacramento, CA. I was able to go to the Crocker Museum and check out first hand three different exhibits dealing largely with late 19th and early 20th century American painting. Not too many beaks but lots of Hudson River School landscapes, Barbizon School and American Impressionism/Post Impressionism works. I had an instructive day and used some of what I learned on your blog (and my own studying) and so just wanted to say thank you.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Stape!

willek said...

Very valuable insight to the process, Stape. I can't wait to use the drawn recession thing mext trip to Halibut. Thanks.

tom martino said...

Stape, thanks for a good, clear explanation of the way round "beakiness". As a painter of the beloved rocky coastlines, I notice that beakiness abounds!

David Teter said...

Nice post... although I don't have as strong an aversion to beaks as yourself, I do with other shapes, so this valuable info can really be applied to any offending shape that is too strong.
That seems to be the point to me.
Beaks (and other devilish shapes) are out there and must be used at times, as with seascapes, but learn to control them, don't let them control your composition.
Be aware!... Be very aware!

Anonymous said...

Stape, when you painted the receding stacked planes, did you construct them from back to front, or does it not matter? After your underpainting, did you paint in each stacked plane one over the other working forward, or all over at once and then work all the edges?
(Purpoodock is the Cape Elizabeth Country club/Golf course. In the late 80's I lived and worked in Portland and my boss lived in Cape Elizabeth. He still does and I just learned he is now the President of the Purpoodock club. Big golfer. I hate golf)

Sue Harrell said...

Man, I'd give the world to take one of your workshops! Thanks for such informative posts.

Cynthia Hillis McBride said...

Stape, I'm ashamed I didn't notice all the beak mitigation you executed in your Lighthouse painting.

Am I ignorant or what? Wish I had this post when I painted my latest abomination, a decidedly beaky beach scene. I would have known better how to deal with that pesky proboscis. Guess I'll have to cheat and go back and perform a bit of rhinoplasty.

Unknown said...

Damn, you make it look easy.
I like the warmer, richer colors you installed in the front.
Didn't immediately notice the stacking of planes, but did notice the color transitions. Like it.
Like it alot.

Stapleton Kearns said...

colleen ;
Beaks are everywhere on the shore, beware.

Stapleton Kearns said...
Good luck back there, it must be very green indeed.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Libby Fife ;
Photos just give information, a painting should be poetic.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Mary Pettis ;
Thanks Mary.

Stapleton Kearns said...

willek ;
Do you ever get any surf there.

Stapleton Kearns said...

tom martino;
They are the bane of seascape and beach painters. Maine is the beak capital of the world.

Stapleton Kearns said...

David Teter ;
The idea is transferable to finessing any problem area in a painting, not just a beak.

Stapleton Kearns said...

It doesn't matter I can do it either way. It is in the way of thinking about the forms that the thing happens.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Cynthia Hillis McBride;
There it was all along, beak mitigation!

Stapleton Kearns said...

It is not easy for me at all, no matter how it looks. Thank you though.,