Sunday, 26 December 2010

Saving the boat

I created this watercolour over a period of time.  It was one that I sketched out on a half sheet (15" x 22" ) of 200lb paper a few months ago, then abandoned it for awhile.  I haven't slept well for a few nights so was up very early (4am!) and decided to play around with it again.  Kind of kill or cure.

I added layers of wash to the water and detail to the little dory to bring it to a more finished level.  There are flaws in it, but there are also ways around flaws if I want to preserve this piece from the bin.

1.  Composition.   The boat is dead centre of the painting.  Dead centre is called so because it makes the painting uninteresting and doesn't let the eye wander around the piece, picking up other elements.

2.  The horizon line.   I painted this on a fairly flat surface without standing back as much as I should to see my progress.  As a result, the horizon line is tilted upwards on the right.

So how to correct this?  Instead of scrubbing back and risking making it worse, simple crops can help save this piece.

The first option is to eliminate the horizon altogether, concentrating on the dory and the water.  This isolates the boat and doesn't give any options to the viewer but to look at it, but still has the challenge of a central focal point.

The second option is to crop from the side as well as the horizon.  This knocks the focal point (the dory) off centre and allows the viewer to examine the changes in values in the water, sending the eye around the painting and back to the dory again.

The crop can be from either side depending on how much space there is.  In this option, cropping the left doesn't allow a lot of space to the right and brings the dory into the foreground more, reducing the overall size of the piece.

Which would you choose?


Angie Platten said...

I think you have done a beautiful job on the dory. I like the crop to the right. I'm also wondering how it would look cropped to the right a bit leaving the horizon in the picture? Just curious.... regardless, the picture gives a very tranquil and peaceful feel when I view it. I like it a lot.

Anonymous said...

I like #3 the eye follows the anchor lines - seems more pleasing.

Definitely worth the save.

Jo Castillo said...

I like the first one, just loosing the horizon. I like the open spaces.

This is a lovely painting. Your watercolor work is great.

Nice to "see" you. It was 73 degrees F on Friday and it is 30 degrees here this morning so I feel a little "closer" to you. LOL

Hope your Christmas was Merry. We had 3 of our 4 adult kids here. Nice quiet time. Hugs.

Brenda Rowe said...

I like the second pix best as I find the 3rd one has that back line in the water that leads your eye out of the painting but it doesn't do that as much in version 2 as the main subject is closer to that side.

Billie Crain said...

#2 is the most exciting to me. I'm not sure what your intention is here but the title Saving The Boat would be perfect with this comp. The water is so dark and foreboding looking in the lower left of the painting. There's an element of danger as it's being held on such a short 'leash' from 'falling' into that abyss by some unseen force out of view on the right. Btw, you did the right thing cropping the horizon line, IMO. Even if it were level it's unnecessary.

vivien said...

3 for me

You've caught the stillness beautifully and I love the simplicity of it

One for cards/prints I think too

vivien said...

errrm - I meant 3rd image which would be second crop - that wasn't very clear the way I wrote it

Jeanette said...

Angie, thank you. There are several options to consider and I think I've made a decision that the majority seem to agree with so far. That is the third image in the post.

Thanks Anonymous, I like the cropped version much better.

Jo, Merry Christmas. The first does have appeal too but the central composition keeps niggling at me, though I like the wider view of ocean in it.

Good you had family around for the holidays, I'm sure it was lovely. And here, not cold and very unseasonal. Rain, rain and more rain it seems. You've been colder than we have!

I agree Brenda. I like to consciously try to understand how my eye travels over a piece before making the final crop decision.

Billie, I hadn't thought about a name for it yet, but you may be on to something there.

I agree, I like it without the horizon showing too.

Vivien, the water was perfectly calm during the early morning with varying values across the surface and yes, very peaceful too.

I think I'm of the same mind as you and others that the 3rd image in the post will be the final crop for this piece if its to be saved. Yes, it could translate into prints or cards too.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Definitely #3 the two thin lines going off to the right balance out the bulk of the boat on the left

Anonymous said...

A great job Jeanette...I'll go for nr 3...but am curious too about including a bit of horizon? Seeing the horizon adds some atmosphere that you lose when cropping it out. How would a vertical format look with the horizon?
But still nice in nub]mber 3..

Pat Brookes said...

I like number 3. My eye is more pleased by the composition because I am focused on the boat. The anchor line leads me into the boat(reading from the right). You have a 2/3 background light/middle value with the water above and around the boat. The boat is the lightest value and the shadow/reflection creates and anchor (dark) to the whole piece. I might soften the line(point) of the reflection that wants to lead me off the paper, but otherwise I think it is beautiful. said...

They are all great.
I love your blog! Thank you for the frequent updates you post!
Best of health and happiness in 2011 from an occasional blog visitor!

Laureline said...

I'm not sure!! I love the almost Wyethesque method you have used painting this. Your technique is stunning. I actually wish there were no line at all to worry about... the boat by itself, in the water, is such a powerful image. Beautifully done.

Jeanette said...

Katherine, I'm torn between the last two images in the post. The second last I've added to Fine Art America for on demand printing. I still like the last image as well. Decisions, decisions...

Ronell, I tinkered with that concept too, but it seemed to distract from the 'lonely' element of the boat in the water, if that makes sense.

Thanks Pat, great technical input which I always value.

Comedyrocks, thanks for taking time to comment, glad you're enjoying it.

Laura, yes it does have that dark Wyeth feel to it. Stark and lonely. Perhaps that's the appeal.

I see what you say about the line, but no going back on that one now I'm afraid. I've digitally cropped the piece to make it available. One of these days I'll have to physically crop it for framing. Oh my...

Pat Brookes said...

Check out this link to a local artist named Kent Lovelace. He paints in oil on copper and this image will knock your socks off.

The image is Dordogne 16x18