I never really know where a painting will take me. We start together from a humble beginning
and begin to build on those first foundations towards synergistic vision.
I find it is easy to get lost on a large canvas such as this 30 X 40 inch piece — lost in both structure and colour. I put paint markers like mental blazes in place to be able to stay on course. This is a larger colour palette than I usually select. But the painting seemed to be requesting it, so I went along.
Gradually the light and shadow references begin to take shape.
Good! Everything is still nice and loose. Unfortunately, I need to leave it for a few days. I enjoy a couple of details in the underpainting
that I know will eventually disappear.
Days pass and I walk by the painting pondering and anticipating my next chance to settle in for a good long stretch working my brush across its canvas. The time finally comes. I spend the day happily trying to “reach the sea.” But something is off. The painting is struggling and seems to be twisting on the canvas. What is it?
Hum! There that is what it is! Painting seascapes is a little like being a carpenter – measure the horizon line twice and paint once. I was down by half an inch to the left. I will let you in on a little secret. This “down a little on the left” is common for me both in painting and in my photographs. For whatever reason, I will pull down to the left. I am left-handed and see better out of my left eye so this might be part of the issue. But leveling takes care of these things nicely. How many times to I paint the horizon line in a seascape? Many. It is critical to getting the distance or depth in the paint and getting it to “settle” on the canvas. Time to pause for a moment.
There are a few challenging and unusual elements to this painting. First, the focal point is the lower top right third. Most often, we expect the composition to work from details in the foreground to less in the background. This painting is forcing the viewer’s eye past the foreground towards the reflections near the end of the reef. Hence the name of the work “REACHING THE SEA.” Secondly, the sun is in front of us reflecting on the water creating deep shadows and light patterns that are more difficult for me to represent by having my brush following the light. It is a painting that is moving towards the viewer and demands, not asks, that the viewer meet it two-thirds of the way into the frame. That was the painting’s idea. I am usually much more polite.
We are almost there…
The painting has never really tightened up and the layers have built themselves in the generous way of land and sea in perpetual transformation. I have heard many times that green is one of the most difficult colours to mix. The green of seaweed. The brown of sandstone. The diverse blues of the sea. The brightness of the facing the midday sun. The deep shadows of the shoreline. Thank heavens for the light, softness of the sky! … I see a few wayward brushstrokes, maybe a little lighter over here and yes, a little darker over there. Done!
REACHING THE SEA 30 x 40 original oil painting by Terrill Welch
As usual, I need to paint the edges yet before putting it on the market. But very soon. I will just need to make a day of it do nothing but paint edges!
SPROUT: What unusual adventures has your creativity taken you on lately?
© 2012 Terrill Welch, All rights reserved.
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Creative Potager – where imagination rules. Be inspired.
From Mayne Island, British Columbia, Canada
Terrill Welch online Gallery at http://terrillwelchartist.com