Sunday, June 20, 2010

Anne of Mystic - pastel

Here is #3 in the "reflections and boats" series.   "Anne" is a small tugboat that sits moored to a semi-public dock on the east bank of the Mystic River, slightly north of downtown.  I think this is a most charming boat, and I was excited to paint her.

Each one of these paintings teaches me something, and "Anne" was quite instructive!  These boats - they are definitely a challenge to paint.  Not only are there the perspective issues to consider, similar to buildings, but symmetry is required - both for the boat and its reflection.  It must be absolutely horizontal since it rests on water.  Unlike buildings, boats are curvy (probably why they are all "she's), which adds another challenge to drawing them accurately.  Careful study of values and colors is necessary to discern what is going on in certain areas, esp. when working from a photograph, and also being mindful of the limitations of a photograph.

The reference photo, taken on my Memorial Day walkabout, was compositionally where I wanted it.  I used to just fire off shots, figuring maybe 1-2 would be decent enough to use.  Now, I spend the time to carefully frame the shot, walking around to find the most pleasing composition.  There were other elements in the photo, such as part of another large sailboat, that I eliminated.   I wanted the focus to be on the tug and her reflections.  Because this is done from a specific location, I did decide to keep some of the building elements on the distal shore, but tried to render them to simple abstract shapes that wouldn't compete with the COI.

I wasn't sure what direction this painting was going to go as far as its detail went.  I found myself getting caught up in the detail, for better or worse.  I always worry that the painting is going to get too fussy, risking it becoming over-worked.  I also think that for paintings with any kind of detail, working on a bigger size paper is advised...time to order some 12x18" and larger papers!

While there are some things that I knew would be an issue (like trying to make the chain for the anchor look *remotely* like a chane), the biggest bother for me is that her name plates aren't even!  There's that symmetry thing I mentioned earlier.   I suppose I could go back and re-work the plate on the left side of the boat, but quite frankly, I would rather just move on.  Years ago, I used to work so hard to make everything as perfect as possible in the painting.  Now, I just analyze what could be improved, and move on, saving the changes for the next painting.

"Anne of Mystic"
pastel on Wallis paper, 12x9"

For this painting, I decided to use an underpainting, since it had worked so well the last time I used Wallis.

underpainting - pastel with rubbing alcohol

Finally, here is a photo of the front of Anne's hull, showing some of the detail and her nameplate.  The neatly coiled rope photo on my Memorial Day post?  It's Anne's :).

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