Two very different compositions that convey very different moods. Where to place objects and shapes in our work is certainly one of the questions that need to be worked out even before picking up a pencil to draw, let alone a paint brush!
Over the years, I have ruined many paintings by disregarding this simple but important fact. It can be very disheartening, especially so if the painting is finished! There’s nothing more frustrating than to put it up and think, ‘mmmh, I don’t like it – what happenend??’ Well, what happened was that I placed the focal point wrong and no matter how nicely it was painted, it’s just not working. Sometimes it’s even hard to figure out why exactly it isn’t working. You just know in your heart, something is wrong. That’s a good time to check your composition. It is usually the culprit. That or the values, either one of those…
When deciding on a composition, it is important to ask what you’d like to accomplish. Do you want the viewer’s eyes to go around the painting finding different points of interest? Is it all about one focal point? Is there a lead-in? What role does the background play, if any? Most artists get too caught up with light situations and forget all about design! Sure, the light is the most important thing, but if you just get that right and nothing else then the painting is not exactly a success! Just food for thought.
Redondo Beach Harbor, 2010
Posted in the California, USA gallery
I am very busy doing a huge mural in a private residence with four other artists right now. So unfortunately, there wasn’t so much time for my own art in the last two weeks.
I love going down to the King Harbor and painting there. It makes for incredibly complex scenes. There are so many boats, you cannot possibly paint them all in! The key is to pick one or two boats as the focal point. For all the others, I came up with this idea where I just drop in the colors I see, mostly in the wet-in-wet technique, and hope for the best! For some miraculous reason of watercolor, it seems to work. Of course I didn’t post the ones where it didn’t! Sometimes it just takes three or four attempts before you come up with a good one. It is all part of being a watercolorist. Oil painters have it a little easier, they can just go back and make endless corrections. But in my humble opinion, there is nothing like the luminosity of a well executed watercolor. When it works out, it just glows!
I was attracted to this scene because of the white sun protection strapped over the boat. It enhances the focal point because it creates a strong contrast and your eyes immediately go there. The A-shaped sail is the white of the paper!
This painting is approximately 10″x 14″ (25cm x 35cm) and was done in about 2 hours. One of the biggest challenges painting on location is finding a motif that will work. You can spend an hour or more wandering around looking for the perfect view and never find it! The more time you spend looking, the more anxious you get, so it makes sense to visit ahead of time and scope out the place. That way you already know where to go and what to paint once you make it out.