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Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Lure of the Sea

Sunlight on the Coast, 1890, Winslow Homer
I have been pushing myself to do a little more each day since my surgery, and yesterday I hit the wall—a persistent stitch in my side put paid to doing any more work. But at least I finished one sketch of a breaking wave.

Whenever I consider painting surf, I start by thinking about Winslow Homer’s great Maine paintings.  Homer knew the value of a diagonal in a painting, and he used it repeatedly, always to great effect.
Rochesterians know The Artist's Studio in an Afternoon Fog, 1894, by Winslow Homer, because it is owned by the Memorial Art Gallery. I was pleased as punch to see it have pride of place in the Portland Museum of Art’s Weatherbeaten show.
WinslowHomer is providing inspiration of another sort to me these days. I’ve been debating whether I’m capable of picking up sticks and starting again in Maine at my advanced age. Yet Homer was almost 50 when he moved permanently to Prouts Neck, ME.

It was here he produced his most famous maritime paintings. These paintings established his reputation “as the most original and one of the strongest of American painters.” (New York Evening Post) He could never have made that great push had he not chosen to live a hermit-like existence in Maine.

It's so easy to weaken the diagonal in a sketch, and I did so here. Will fix it on the next permutation.
One bit of advice of his I’ve never been able to fathom was this: “Leave rocks for your old age—they're easy.” I’ve never found it to be true, especially the scrambling-over-rocks part.

The rocks in my sketch are from my imagination, but the reference photo of the boys was taken in S. Gippsland, Australia, during a picnic with my cousin and his boys.

A tidal pool on the Southern Ocean, off the coast of S. Gippsland. The sea is a universally beautiful thing.
In photos, the Southern Ocean off Victoria and the North Atlantic off Maine can look very similar, filled as they are with tidal pools, vast rock formations, and myriad shellfish. In life, they are very different. The Southern Ocean is warm, aquamarine, and has fairy penguins. The North Atlantic is cold, grey, and full of gulls. But both are magical.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2014 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!

2 comments:

Matthew Chinian said...

Nice post, Carrol, There was a great Homer exhibit at the Clark in Williamstown, MA, last year, and I agree, his maritimes are memerable. Thanks for the tutorial posts, here's to your full recovery!

Matt

Carol Douglas said...

I saw it on signs when I was driving through. I also saw the "Weatherbeaten" show at the Portland Museum of Art, which was fantastic.

I've never been to the Clark. Sometime when I'm zipping along the interstate I have to stop.

And thanks for the good wishes. I'm actually recovering very fast, but sometimes I forget and overdo it.