This week a student asked me to explain how I paint the ocean. I thought this would be a good subject for my next painting.
For the far distant water, I use a slightly darker version of the distant sky color. As the water comes toward me, I make the color slightly darker and add more blue. The water also picks up a muted version of the sky colors. Therefore, the color of the ocean depends on whether the sky is dull or colorful. As the water continues to come forward, I follow the rules of aerial perspective. adding green to my color mixture so that the sea becomes darker and warmer. Remember that the flat planes of the water are influenced by the sky colors directly overhead and that the angled planes of the water (waves) are darker.
|Storm Tide, 5x7, oil|
As the waves grow and just before they break, their tops become thin and translucent and looks a bit greenish. Aerated water is also greenish and the foam and spray catch sparkles of light and act like mini prisms, splitting the light into diamond chips. Water washing up on the shore is thin and aerated and the modified colors of the sand and rocks can be seen through the water. Wet sand and wet rocks are dark and if they are shiny, they reflect the colors around them and also reflect the sky colors on their horizontal planes.
Colors are based on the angles of reflection. Determine what colors are perpendicular to each surface of the objects and notice how these surfaces are affected. Shiny surfaces reflect more color than dull surfaces. And don’t forget to modify your colors with grays to keep them from becoming harsh and unnatural. There are more grays in a landscape than most students see.
Since the ocean is in constant motion and that is how we see it with our eyes, there should be a slight blurring of shapes. I think this is a more natural interpretation than the sharp focus of a photograph.
Take the time to really look and analyze your subject. Paint what you actually see, not what you think you see. Preconceived ideas can get you into trouble. I tell my students, “The answers are there, look closely and analyze what you see.” Also, know your subject. It would be very difficult to paint all the nuances of the sea and shore if you have never spent time there watching the surf and seeing the subtle color shifts. That goes for all subject matter. If you only have someone else’s photographs for reference, if you have never actually seen the subject and taken the time to study it, you run the risk of creating a painting that is artificial and amateurish.These are my thoughts, and as I've said before, I can only teach what I believe. Both of these paintings were painted from my visual memory and not from photographs. I have spent a lot of time watching and studying the sea.
|The Wild Sea, 8x10, oil|
Both paintings are available on my Ebay page.
Storm Tide, 5x7, oil - sold.
The Wild Sea, 8x10, oil
Thank you for visiting with me.