Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Troller heading out

I have spent a couple of afternoons and an evening working on my painting of a fishing troller - with Bowen Island in the background - heading out across the stormy Straight of Georgia. This painting is being a bit challenging because I am trying to make the boat be the lightest part of the painting against a dark background - with a cloud touched by sunshine above it - whereas in the photo I am using for inspiration, the boat (although whitish) is actually darker than the sky.

I love the colours in the photo - so beautifully grey and blue - not at all stormy. Maybe I have a made a mistake with the purple sky in the painting - though I think the photo of the painting is a bit misleading colourwise. Depending on the light in the room, the painting is not really all that purple. Also, I think the photo of the painting looks more purple than it is because it is contrasted against a green pastel of my parents' old cottage in Salt Spring Island and the trees outside the window.

Here is just the boat part - and you can see it is not really all that purple. I am excited by the orange and pink inside the upper steering station and the greenish edge around the top which is actually clear turquoise plastic to reduce glare from the water.

I am trying to put in a suggestion of some of the lines coming down from the trolling poles. This is really tricky since I want them to show up from a distance but not be too strong or too neat. I generally make masts and poles by scratching away the existing paint with a hard little brush and then putting in a suggestion of new colour in the little channel which remains. This painting is supposed to be impressionistic and although there is a lot of precise detail done by a small brush - the overall effect is supposed to be loose, big brush work.

Of course, being a boat painting, there is also the challenge of getting the boat drawn sufficiently correctly to actually look like a troller. I still haven't quite got it. I am eliminating some of the detail - but need enough to give the right effect. For a while the boat looked as if it was curved back on itself (like a dog curled up) because the dark piece of reinforced wood on the hull was giving the wrong effect. I suddenly realized that the wheelhouse and the stern were too foreshortened and this was causing most of the problem. I have widened them considerably - but now need to brighten up the stern again where the sun is shining on it - though - where the sun is coming from is still a bit of a question. Through the clear sky above the clouds I guess. The Straight of Georgia is unusual - since it is a big body of water but you can see across it most days and the weather on the mainland side is often very different from the weather here on Vancouver Island.

The water in front of the boat is rippled in the photo - but I think it need some dark and light streaks in the painting to make it balance with the dark purple sky. As always for me - it is trial and luck that results in a good picture. I never really know how to achieve the effect I want until I think I finally have it.

I have been somewhat sick lately (asthma and sinus) and lacking in my usual energy. I love painting because it is so absorbing - so many little problems to be worked out and only yourself to finally satisfy. I''m glad I am feeling brave enough to paint again. Sometimes something magic happens and it so fun when it does.

New projects ahead. We are going to travel north in our RV starting next week - for a month - and I have bought pastels to take with me. That is why I have the Salt Spring Cottage pastel in my art room. I am hoping it will give me some ideas. I think pastelling will be quite different from painting - since you can let a lot more of the background paper shine through and make the picture more of a drawing. We'll see.

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