"The Lighted Arch"
(at the Arched Rocks, Port Orford, Oregon Coast)
Oil Sketch on Centurion Oil Primed Linen Panel
With additional coat of Williamsburg Lead Primer
5" x 7"
(Take Note: for those of you who have signed up to be notified by email of new postings to this blog, you have been receiving not just a notification, but an actual copy of the new blog posting as the email. As this does not show the images of the paintings in the best possible light, you should click on the title of the latest posting, to open up the actual blog itself, and enjoy the paintings at their best.)
As I said in the previous posting the wind was continuing on the beaches, and so on this fourth day in my campsite on the forest roads above Brookings I continued painting from a pencil drawing in my small pocket sketchbook. I have mentioned my last morning in Port Orford was spent drawing on the beach, before heading here to Brookings. The work above was done from the last of those pencil drawings. Having my laptop in for repairs is a real bummer, because I would like to have scanned the pencil drawing to show you a bit more of my working process; maybe in a future posting I'll dwell on drawings and those paintings done from them.
Several things intrigued me about this scene that I wanted to capture in paint from the original and recent pencil drawing. The first was looking through the rocks themselves, one in the light and the other in shadow, to scene beyond. We are not looking through an arch here a these are two separate stacks, and both of them have arches within them. Perhaps they were one rock at some point and this was an arch that has fallen through, but if so ... no more. Emplacing these two stacks within the composition was not fortuitous, but with thought. I began by drawing the horizon line a bit below halfway of the sides of the rectangle of the panel ... about 7/16 of the heighth from the bottom, in this case. Then by taking the lefthand heighth of the rectangle of the panel and swinging it in an arc so that it dissects the bottom length of the panel, and then draw a perpendicular up to the he top length, you now have a square within the rectangle of the panel, as well as a tall rectangle to the right of it. This process is called the armature of the rectangle, if I remember correctly. Where the perpendicular has rossed the horizon line is where the edge of the righthand stack crosses the horizon. If you do the same for the other side, is where the edge of the lefthand stack crosses the horizon; incidently you now have two notional overlapping squares thus forming three rectangles within the panel. This would normally be too symetrical and thus probably too static a composition, but because the edge of the lefthand stack leans towards the left and the righthand stack leans to the left as well, forming a bit of an overhang, we have, instead of two equal rectangles (the stacks) on either side of a central space, a smaller stack on the left and the larger stack on the right; the armature of the rectangle was used to merely guide the placement of the edges of both stacks where each encountered the horizon line.
I did not do this with stright edges and compasses, but by using my thumb placed along the brush handle as my measuring tool, and so will be approximate, but the intent is there enough to be seen. Now this longwinded account was served to you to show you that painting is not merely copying what is before you, but is also invention, and the art is incorporated into the work by the mind of the Artist, not found somehow accidentally in Nature by him (or her). There were further decisions to be made as the design progressed.
Another thing that had caught my eye when drawing in my sketchbook, was the early morning sun lighting up the interior of the small arch in the lefthand stack. I noticed later the similar shaped shadow of that stack falling on the base of the stack to the right, and later still while in the block-in phase of the painting itself, how both of these shapes were echoed in the first rock out in the surf, and that the three formed a triangle within the design. This triangle, or pyramid, gives a stability to the composition as well as a tension to it due to the apex being off-set to the left, and this left leaning slant combined with the left leaning edges of the two stacks, could be too much, but the roughly rhomboidal and right-leaning shape of the furthest rock serves to balance the composition, thus saving us all from falling down to the left ... CRASH!
The imprimatura is back to Venetian Red, with the block-in with Ultramarine, and the other pigments used were Blue Ridge Yellow Ochre & Italian Burnt Sienna, both from Rublev, Venetian Red, Cerulean & Cobalt Blues, and Cremnitz White, all these latter pigments from Winsor & Newton (W&N). The Venetian Red imprimatura, again serves to give an underlying warmth to the cool of the blues and greens of the sky and sea, as well as helping to give a quiet purplish hue to the distant off-shore fog bank on the horizon, which had been rolling south from beyond Cape Blanco to the north of Port Orford the whole time I spent in that area.
That should be enough for you to be digesting while you think upon the design and intent of an Artist, as opposed to simply attempting the copying of Nature.