Friday, May 28, 2010


HMS Bellona. An English man-o'-war of Nelson's Era, by Geoff Hunt. Appears on the cover of Patrick O'Brian's book "The Yellow Admiral".

There's a marvellous feeling of space in this work, by the English marine painter Geoff Hunt, due to the use of increasingly desaturated tones with distance. On the nearest ship we can see a slight obscuring of the bow in comparison with the stern.

in the work below, the more distant vessels have almost disappeared in the dense atmosphere of driving rain.

Both painters have opted for a composition based on three vessels, with the added interest of a different object - a rowboat - linked to the largest vessel. A trinity is more visually appealing than a duality. Generally, odd numbers are better than even.

Arthur Briscoe, English, 1873-1943, The White Squall, 26 x 40 inches

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leaving Something Out

The Headlands, 24 x 36 inches
California Coast, 50 x 60 inches
Aqua Music, 20 x 30 inches

Here's a quote from the American painter Clyde Aspevig's website:
"As far as Clyde is concerned, some of the most powerful representations he developed were those that left something out."
He also says of his work that he tries not to let his technical skills (which are considerable) take over the concept for the piece, and he is conscious of bringing a sense of music into his brushwork passages. There's a video on the site, in which he talks about his approach to painting.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sorolla y Bastida, Joaquin

Joaquin Sorolla Sunshine & Shadow 2010 Wall Calendar

Valencian Fishermen, 65 x 85 cm

The Spanish painter Sorolla was a master who often exploited the compositional possibilities of fishermen and their boats in the surf. The eye of the viewer is led on an interesting path of alternating shadow and highlight, from the lower left to the upper right of the scene. The shadow of the figure on the left, and the arm of the figure in the boat connect the subjects to the frame, which completes the circuit.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Avoiding the Obvious

Eurich, Richard Ernest, Low Tide, 1988

Eric Merrell, Big Sur, California

These two paintings verge on abstraction because they explore and accentuate elements of painting such as intensified/simplified colour, and pattern. It's not obvious at first glance that they are seascapes. The eye sometimes likes a puzzle to decipher, to be intrigued.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Narrative Element

Colin-Libour, Uranie, In Distress, Rising Tide

Imitator of Thomas Couture, Caught by the Tide

Adding a narrative element to your work can make it more attractive to buyers. The narrative could be dramatic, humorous or charming but trivial, depending on the emotions or mood you wish to arouse in the viewer, but avoid melodrama or cliched sentimentality. Grim narratives, like the potential drownings of women and children in these two works, might not be as popular today as they were in 19th century France.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wave Abstraction

Nate Ronninger, Facing West from California's Shores, Oil on Linen, 12 x 12 inches

Sidney Goodman- The Elements - Water, 96 x 76 inches

Zooming in close to a wave can produce interesting semi-abstract compositions.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Repetition and Rhythm

Horold Harvey, 1874-1941, Waiting on the Tide
Hendrik Willem Mesdag, 1831-1915, German, Pinks in the Breakers

Both these works exploit the visually stimulating rhythms produced by the repetition of an element, in this case the masts of fishing boats. The more irregular the arrangement of the repeated elements, the more visually energetic and aesthetically satisfying. The lines vary in length, thickness, angle and spacing. By avoiding outward-leaning masts at the edges of the composition, which would tend to lead the eye out of the image, these painters prevent the visual energy from dissipating. 
These two works use a limited palette of greys enlivened here and there with a hint of red.

English painter Harold Harvey grew up in Cornwall and studied art under Norman Garstin, and then in Paris at the Académie Julian under Constant and Laurens; after his time abroad he moved back to Cornwall where he followed the style of Newlyn Artists; the artist is best known for his seaside paintings.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sergey Koval

Sergey Koval (b. 1960) is a Russian painter who specialises in seascapes. He studied the painting theory and techniques of the Dutch, Flemish and Italian old masters, in particular glazing, a technique in which transparent layers of oil paint are built up to produce depth and brilliance. As part of his academic training he made copies of the works of Aivazovsky, the luminary painter of seascapes, for Russian museums.

"The painter's world outlook and attitude was influenced greatly by the Chinese philosophy of arts. 'When you paint a tree you have to feel how it grows'. These words of Su Shi represent Sergey Koval’s artistic credo. Natural elements, with all their intrinsic dynamics, live in his soul. Koval writes: 'Be a sun or a sun ray for a while, feel as if you were touching rocks or sails softly, vibrating and sparkling on the water surface. Try to imagine as if you were water. Imagine that you are a stone that is being stroked and caressed by waves for a thousand years'."