Sunday, July 11, 2010

Oceanscape with Cloud

Here is the second in the informal series of oceanscapes and clouds.  It's loosely based on a photo I took a few weeks ago on a hot, humid afternoon.  Often, under those conditions, stratus clouds (low-level) will often form right off the ocean, producing an amorphous cloud that has no discernible origin.  Fog, a type of stratus cloud, is probably the best example of this phenomenon.

For this painting, my goals were to:  1) experiment with color; 2) experiment with lost and found edges; 3) simplify the design and abstract it a bit.

First thing I did was to abandon local color; several of the artists whose blogs I follow are very good at this, and it's something I often struggle with.  I chose some warm grays for the cloud - yellows, peaches and pinks.  The blues I originally chose for the sky were a bit too bright, resulting in a discordant effect.   Color harmony is simple when working in oils with a limited palette, but is often a bit more of a challenge with pastels, particularly when working with multiple brands.  For this, I relied primarily on my Unison and MV grays.  A few Senneliers were used as well.

Surface was Mi-Tientes, white, smooth side.  Normally, I prefer to work on a darker surface, with black being my favorite.  After laying down the initial layers as blocked-in colors, I finger blended them to essentially form the underpainting and cover the paper surface.  I was able to successfully scumble a few more layers on top to produce optical blending.

Second goal was to try and reproduce the discreet and disappearing edges of the cloud.  After applying the initial layers, I tried to rely on scumbling rather than finger blending to achieve this effect along the sides and bottom of the cloud.   Looking at the photo, I see where I could have done that a bit more along the left edge of the paper.

Simplifying this was just a matter of removing a bunch of boats and the distal landmass of Fisher's Island (part of NY state).  I pulled colors from the clouds into both the sky and the ocean to harmonize the palette and to gray down the original sky.  I feel that was somewhat successful.

Probably most important to me, however, is that this painting was just *fun* to do.  No struggles - just a good flow.  No futzing or tinkering - just purposeful placement of the pastel.

"Oceanscape with Cloud"
9x12" Mi-Tientes

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