Virtual Art Academy

Cat. No. 1475 Wexford Boats, Ireland

Cat. No. 1475 Wexford Boats, Ireland - 20cm x 27.5cm - Oil on Linen - 2022
Cat. No. 1475 Wexford Boats, Ireland - 20cm x 27.5cm - Oil on Linen - 2022

I loved all the interesting shapes of the fishing boats on the wharf and the confusion of masts and rigging. Trying to simplify it and turn it into a painting was a challenge, particularly since there was a very strong wind blowing that threatened to blow my whole painting setup over unless I kept one hand on my easel!

Photographic Reference for the painting

As you can see from the photograph, the scene is very confused. Any attempt to copy all the detail would fail artistically. So I needed a strategy for how to deal with it.

Read on to learn some of the techniques and principles I used in this painting.

Techniques and principles used in this painting of geraniums

The overall idea was to create a design based on setting off a few color accents against a field of gray. My plan was to turn the confusion of the wharf into an abstract pattern of interesting shapes using a variety of brushstrokes that were suggestive of the boats, but not a literal description. Suggestion is a key part of the aesthetic experience of a painting. The viewer enters into the work, using their own imagination to construct its meaning. If you give the viewer all of the detail up-front, the viewer has nothing to think about, and consequently gets bored. This is a very general concept in painting, and explains why master artists such as Monet and JMW Turner, to cite two well known examples, turned more and more to abstraction later on in their careers as their confidence to capture their subject matter expressively increased.

Stormy Sea Breaking on a Shore by Joseph Mallord William Turner
Stormy Sea Breaking on a Shore by Joseph Mallord William Turner

Suggestive value transitions and edges used by Turner, to suggest a storm

Claude Monet - Waterlillies
Claude Monet – Waterlillies

Suggestive brushwork used by Monet, focusing on a complementary color harmony

The basic color harmony I used in Wexford Boats was a dominant cool blue gray with complementary accents. I contrasted the flat areas of cool grays with thick impasto brushwork for the boats in the center of interest, using a combination of lines and masses in my brushwork.

If you look at the wharf, there is a very subtle graying and cooling of the gray in the distance in order to create a sense of distance. I also used calligraphy in the brushwork to enhance this effect. The idea was to create a sense of reality, by creating a sense of space in the painting in spite of its overall abstract character.

Available for sale. Please contact me and quote the catalog number.

Online painting classes

Here are the online painting classes in the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program that go into the details of all the techniques I used in this painting:

  • B07 How To Make Grays
  • B11 What Are Complements?
  • C09 Focal Point And Focal Area
  • D08 Atmospheric Value Changes
  • D09 Atmospheric Hue Changes
  • F06 Thick & Thin
  • G07 Planes of the Light & Shade
  • H02 Brushwork in Focal Areas
  • H07 Contrast of Brushwork
  • H11 Complementary Color Harmony

Thank You

Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope you find it useful. If you would like to get free painting tips by email, please sign up for my free tips newsletter.

If you are interested in a structured approach for learning how to paint, take a look at my online painting classes.

Happy painting!

Barry John Raybould
Virtual Art Academy

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