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Friday, January 9, 2015

Hand over fist

Unfinished, by Carol L Douglas, 16X20, oil on canvas. (The color is distorted because it was dark when I shot this.)
Over the past three years, I have become enamored of the luminist paintings of Fitz Henry Lane. That doesn’t mean I want to paint like him, but I love the space and light in his paintings. I started this boat painting with him in mind, but I did not look at his work. I wanted his technique to suffuse my understanding, rather than push me toward painting like him.

If I'm unsure about the composition, I compare it to this grid I learned in a workshop taught by Steven Assael. 
Sailboats are elegant, and they glide like living creature across the sea. I generally paint them at dock because it is extremely difficult to paint them en plein air in motion, (although I did give it a try at Rye in 2013).

My underpainting. The sky is a complete fabrication. I need to recapture some of the bluntness of this when I finish the painting.
 Last summer, Howard Gallagher of Camden Falls Gallery took Lee Boynton and me out to see the start of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta . (It’s a great gallery owner who cares that much for his painters.) It made me passionately want to paint boats in motion.

My reference photo, taken at the start of the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta.
On Monday, I wrote about consistency and how your style is ultimately your brand. A reader asked how one can experiment, grow and change while still being consistent. Artists know that the creative process never ends; you wrestle through one technical problem only to be faced by another.

Ironically, that was the precise problem I found myself facing. I went back to first principles. I drew and drew the boat until I was confident about its proportions. Since I was unsure of how to divide the space, I used a grid taught by Steven Assael.

Boston Harbor was painted by Fitz Henry Lane around 1850. 
The end result taps into Lane’s luminism, but is by no means a slavish copy. It is both consistent with my work and yet it explores new material. It’s not finished, but it is a good start.

Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in Maine in 2015 or Rochester at any time. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.

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