Below is Sunrise, Bribie Island. It’s a peaceful yet chaotic painting. Crashing waves, dramatic sunlight, and not another person in sight.
Reference Photo and Study
Below is the reference photo I painted from, plus a grid and grayscale version created using my free reference photo tool.
I also painted a small study to clarify my ideas and colors.
Ideally, I would have also painted the study on location. Photos are great, but nothing can replace how we actually see, feel, and interpret a scene in life.
- Oil on Ampersand Gessoboard. 18 x 24 inches.
- Main colors: Ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow deep, and titanium white.
Refer to my supplies list for more details on what I use.
- I drew inspiration from John Singer Sargent’s Seascape, shown below. He was a master of simplifying all the “noise” into something so elegant and clear.
- I painted this over two sessions and the paint dried slightly during the break. This meant I had to “fake” the wet-on-wet look for the end of the painting. I should have kept it to one session and painted it all wet-on-wet.
- I improvised with a new technique to capture the subtle rays of light bearing down on the sea. I took a large, dry brush and gently dragged the colors down.
- I stopped at a good time, whilst the painting still appears fresh and spontaneous.
- The painting is a play between light and shadow. The grayscale below shows the play more clearly.
- There’s a subtle ship in the distance, just on the horizon line. (Did you miss it?) This was a challenge to paint. I needed to make it both distinct, yet hidden to wandering eyes. A gray color just a touch darker than the surroundings did the trick.
- I was constantly thinking about the ebbs and flow of the water. I let my brush follow this movement. Left, right, back, forth, over, under, around. Observation only takes you so far when painting water. You need to try and feel it.
Below are some progress shots. I also put together this GIF of the painting process.
Thanks for Reading!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I appreciate it! Feel free to share with friends. If you want more painting tips, check out my Painting Academy course.
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