|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.