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Frank Benson’s Summer

Today’s inspiration: Summer by one of the American Impressionists, Frank Benson. You can almost feel the sun’s warmth and the crisp sea breeze.

Frank Benson, Summer, 1909
Frank Benson, Summer, 1909

Here are some key observations and takeaways: 

  • It was painted in oils, but it has a distinct, pastel-like finish. Oils are versatile like that.
  • There’s an interesting play between hard and soft edges. Hard edges give the painting that crisp appearance. Soft edges help our eyes transition throughout the painting.
Frank Benson, Summer (Edges)
  • Notice the interesting shapes and patterns created by the figures against the background.
Frank Benson, Summer (Shapes)
  • Color in the shadows. The subjects’ faces. The faces are vague, but the colors are stunning. Look at those marvelous reds and oranges and the subtle temperature transitions. This color work reminds me of Joaquín Sorolla’s beach paintings.
Frank Benson, Summer, 1909 (Color in Shadows)
  • The lines of vision are implied lines that help direct our attention throughout the painting. We want to look where the subjects are looking. Three of them look inwards in conversation. One looks out over the ocean.
  • The land creates a strong diagonal line. This is the foundation of the painting.
  • Small flowers and subtle color changes inject life into the foreground. It reminds me of Sir Arthur Streeton’s work, who would use a few intricate details to bring the rest of his vague brushwork to life.
Frank Benson, Summer (Details)
  • The land and sky create a sense of atmospheric perspective. Notice how the colors get cooler and lighter.
  • The ocean has a beautiful color gradation, from turquoise to cobalt blue.
Frank Benson, Summer (Gradation Sea)
  • Trees partially frame the left and right sides.

Want to Learn More?

You might be interested in my Painting Academy course. I’ll walk you through the time-tested fundamentals of painting. It’s perfect for absolute beginner to intermediate painters.

Thanks for Reading!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it helpful. Feel free to share it with friends.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.


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