Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bricher Alfred Thompson - English/American

Looking out to Sea, c. 1885, 56 x 81.3 cm
Museo Thyssen, Madrid
Clouds, an island and boat in the distance, act as a counter balance to the large rock.
A single figure adds a human narrative element; however, more than one figure could disrupt the mood of stillness/reverie in a piece.

Salomon Jacobsz van Ruysdael - Dutch

Sailing Vessels, 46 x 63.5 cm

Willem van de Velde the Younger

Ships on a Stormy Sea, c. 1672

Jacob Isaacksz van Ruisdael - Dutch

Rough Sea with Sailing Vessels, c. 1668,
50 x 62.5 cm
Museo Thyssen, Madrid.

Kaspar David Friedrich - German

Fishing Boats by the Baltic Sea, 1830-1835, 22 x 31.2 cm

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Edouard Manet - French

On the Beach, Suzanne and Eugène Manet at Berck, 1873. 60 x 73.5 cm
More strong tonal contrasts and quick, incisive brushwork. As in previous examples, the distant boats at the centre background act as a hinge that ties the composition together. Without an object of interest at that point, the image would feel disunited.

Monday, April 27, 2009

David Bareford - American

24 x 36 inches

The strength of this image is largely due to the large tonal range. The waves at the bottom are almost black, while the sail on the left is pure white. Tonal contrast is much less in the background, giving a sense of distance. I've noticed that a lot of artists try to get dark shadows in the corners of a composition. This makes them crisper (unless, of course, seen again a very dark wall or frame, which is unusual).

William Bishop

Altair and Mariella - Antigua, 20 x 30 inches

The clouds in this piece are particularly good. Clouds and waves are always changing. Therefore the maritime artist should feel free to 'design' them - place them wherever they best support the composition, while remaining true to the conditions of the setting.

Stanley Cursiter - Orkney Islander

These appear to be two different versions of the same scene.
The purple in the foam is cool enough to indicate shadow and volume, but warm enough to contribute to the summery brightness and warmth of the painting.
In Nature, shadows are almost always coloured by light reflected from other things. Very few things are pure black or grey. Even if shadows in waves seem to be grey, it's best not to mix the grey from tube black and white. A grey mixed from two complementary colours - e.g. purple and yellow - is more alive and interesting.

Greg Baker - Australian

Rottnest, 168 x 71 cm

Getting Away, 124 x 93 cm
Wonderful abstract, expressionistic brushwork in the water reveals the energetic, calligraphic hand of the artist, while remaining true to the nature of water. This is contrasted with more contained brushwork in the land, suggesting solidity.

To see more of Greg's work,
visit his website:

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chris Wilson - Australian

28 x 35 cm
Isolated rocks, resisting the erosion of the ocean, are a great compositional device to balance cliffs on the other side of the piece. The location is on the South Coast of Victoria, Australia.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gordon Miller

Wreck of the San-Felipe -1576, 24 x 36 inches
Most of this painter's work is watercolour. This is an oil.

Albert Goodwin - English 1845-1932

Nice narrative element - the boy is looking at a castle in the distance while carrying the tools to make a sand castle.

John Everett Millais - English

The Tower of Strength

Millais is best known for his rather sentimental figurative works, but he also painted Scottish landscapes. The titles of these paintings evoke poetic references.
The area of white sky creates a dramatic contrast with the promontory. The small area of bright water in the background, draws the eye around the headland to imagine the bay beyond.
The location is Loch Ness, not the sea.

Millais travelled north from Perth after the death of his second son George, staying at Dhivach cottage outside Drumnadrochit. There he produced this painting as an expiation of his grief. The title is taken from Tennyson’s ‘Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington’ and, through the stump-like form of Loch Ness’s ruined Urquhart Castle, he conveys a sense of necessary human resilience in the face of personal tragedy. - Tate Britain

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Brian Blood - American

Last Light along the Coast, 11 x 14 inches
Absence of detail in background gives a sense of distance and space.

The Nocturne

Alexei Bogolubov - Russian

Friedrich - German, Seascape by Moonlight

The Nocturne, or Moonlit Seascape, is a subgenre of Seascape painting worth considering. Such scenes are a good antidote for an excess of Yang energy. Hyperactive people, who need to develop emotional depth and inner calm, may benefit from the cool lunar vibe. Lethargic or depressive types, or those with an excess of Yin, should probably avoid them, however.

less detail = larger

Here's a link to some very useful advice on painting seascapes:
If too much detail is added to large things: the sea, cliffs clouds - they will lose their sense of vastness and distance.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Thomas Eakins - American

Starting out after Rail, 1874

In the lower work, the diminution of ripples with distance is very subtle and convincing.
A horizon cutting the composition in half is usually a compositional no no, but here the central horizon gives a sense of profound calm. There is so much of the blue sky colour reflected in the water that the image does not appear divided in half anyway.

Henry Moore - English 1831-1893

Catspaws off the Land, 1885

Stormy Seas, 12 x 19.75 inches

Henry Moore, famed for his coastal and marine subjects, often painted at sea to capture the power and majesty of the 'boundless deep'. He was a major influence on Julius Olsson (See below). Both painters were active in Cornwall.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Julius Olsson - English 1864-1942

The Golden Shore
The rule about warm colours in the foreground and cool in the distance can be broken.
In this example, the warm pink is in the background, cool in the foreground.
The figure on the rock (at a golden mean point) acts as the visual hinge.
The white clouds at the top of the painting balance the white foam at the bottom.
Sea foam is not always pure white - seascape painters often add a little mauve to distant foam, and a little of a warm cream colour to foreground foam. Here, however, the foreground foam is in a cool shadow. There may be hints of pink in it - hard to tell in this reproduction. Highlights of purer white can be reserved for points where the sun catches the crest of a wave or plume of spray.
Another example of cool foreground- warm background. The background colours still need to be lower in saturation, to give a sense of aerial perspective.
Catalina Sailing, 14 x 18 inches
Ken Backhaus - American

Alson Skinner Clark - American 1876-1949

La Jolla coastal scene, 1924, 18 x 22 inches
Another example of a composition consisting of a duality between warm-coloured rocks and cool-coloured sea. Again using pinks and subtle blue-greens. Both the major colour zones contains hints of its opposite - blue shadows in the rocks, pink reflections in the waves. White forms a third element that helps marry the other two.
The distant part of the sea is usually darker than the water in the foreground.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Guy Rose - American 1867-1925

Carmel Seascape, 21 x 25 inches

Turquoise hues can be made from a mixture of Viridian Green and Cobalt Blue.
To give the image a unified appearance, paler touches of the colours used for the water have been added to the foliage in the foreground. The warm pinks in the foreground advance, giving a sense of depth. The subtlest touch of pink in the sky, usually near the horizon, integrates the top and bottom of the painting. Pinks also bring out the green shades in the sea. Colours are never seen in isolation but are modified by the colours around them.

Isaak Levitan - Russian

After the Rain
This is probably a river, not a marine scene, but a wonderful reminder of the value of depicting a unique, particular weather event and light condition. A painting can have an incidental quality.
The diagonal movement of the clouds balances the diagonal of the shoreline.

Ilya Repin - Russian

What Freedom! 1903

Imaginative combination of figures and seascape.

William Robinson - Australian 1936-

Dark Tide, Bogangar 1994, Diptych: 185 x 446cm (overall)

"Dark tide, Bogangar 1994 is a melancholy seascape depicting the turbulent Pacific Ocean silhouetted against a pale sky.
It records the multiplicity of nature's moods through an entire day. The scene unfolds from left to right: a dark tide rises up against the morning light before sinking down under the evening sky. Swelling against the writhing horizon, the sea appears not as alien to the sky but as an interdependent element.
William Robinson knits together intersecting perspectives, near and far, above and below, before and after. These juxtapositions ultimately consolidate to form a single image. However, the scene is perceived from an indeterminate vantage point, suspended between sea and sky, and not subject to the laws of gravity.
This ambiguity lends further uncertainty to the spatial dimensions of the painting, and serves to articulate its metaphysical aspect. The shifting perspective created by planes which recede, tilt and plunge reinforces the feeling of a vastness in nature which is impossible to express or experience from a single viewpoint."
-Queensland Art Gallery

Laurits Holst (1848-1934)

Gibraltar 1893

Ralph Wilson - Australian

Heading East, 60 x 183 cm

Evening Looking East, 32 x 91 cm

Frenchmans Beach, Stradbroke Island,
90 x 61 cm

Because of it's pleasing proportions, the Golden Rectangle is a traditional format for paintings, and the ready-made canvases available in art shops are usually standard-looking rectangles. An unusual format, however, can often produce a more interesting composition, and can be worth the extra effort of a custom-made support. The horizontal nature of the sea lends itself to formats stretched horizontally. If the intention is to focus on the water as the subject of a particular work, the vertical dimension of sky may be superfluous. On the other hand, if one wants to convey the total marine environment, this can sometimes be achieved with a vertical format - a vertical slice through the panorama.

Monday, April 13, 2009

William Ritschel - American 1864-1949

North California Coast, 40 x 50 inches

Mammoth Cove

The Inlet, 16 x 20 inches

Monterey Coast

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Daniel Pinkham - American

Eye Of The Needle, 24 x 20 inches
A high viewpoint, with no sky, emphasizes the abstract qualities of a scene.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Andrew Tischler - Australian

Gibson Steps

Water is, naturally, a horizontal element. Vertical elements - eg cliffs and rocks - greatly add to the visual interest of a seascape. Pinnacles of rock, standing like sentinels, in isolation from cliffs, make great subjects. Monet painted them on the coast of Brittany.
Andrew was born in the US, and seems to have learned from the American tradition of seascapes.

Priscilla Treacy

Rocks-ocean, (medium unknown)

An interesting composition demonstrating that a marine environment can be evoked without depicting expanses of open sea. The amount of seawater in this work is minimal, and much of it could be just wet sand reflecting the sky. There is no need to show more than a small patch of sky in an upper corner - it is evoked very effectively by the reflection. Cropping out the superfluous from the composition can allow the painting to communicate the beauty and mood of the ocean more effectively, and evoke a very specific sense of place. A painting need not be a novel, it can be a poem - something small in scope but infinite in suggestion.
Subtle colours were laid over a dark, monochrome underpainting to create interesting, magical shadows.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Laura Knight - English

The Bathing Pool, 1918, 76 x 63 cm

High horizon
Just a thin strip of featureless sky is a good foil for the busyness of the jagged rocks.

Paul Lewin - English

75 x 55 cm

These are mixed media paintings, also of the Cornish Coast

John Brenton - English

48 x 48 inches
The Cornwall Coast has long been a source of inspiration for English painters of seascapes.

David Pilgrim - English

Cove, Cornwall, 14 x 14 inches

David Davies

Armin Hansen - American 1886-1957

Fishermen Salvaging a Wreck, 26 x 38 inches
Strong contrasts in tone, and interesting positive and negative shapes, attract the eye without the need for detail.