On the Easel: Sunrise, Bribie Island

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(My "On the Easel" posts give you a behind-the-scenes look at what I am working on, what went well, what went wrong, and things I learn). 

Below is Sunrise, Bribie Island. It's a peaceful yet chaotic painting. Crashing waves, dramatic sunlight, and not another person in sight.

Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021

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.

Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Reference Photo
greyscaled_Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Reference Photo 700Web
gridlines_Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Reference Photo 700Web

I also painted a small study to clarify my ideas and colors.

Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Study (1)
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Study (2)
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021, Study (3)

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.

Details

  • Oil on Ambersand 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.

Notes

  • 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.
John Singer Sargent, Seascape, 1875
John Singer Sargent, Seascape, 1875
  • 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.
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021 Grayscale
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021 Grayscale
  • 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.

Progress Shots

Below are some progress shots. I also put together this GIF of the painting process.

Brisbie Island, Progress Shot (1)
Brisbie Island, Progress Shot (2)
Brisbie Island, Progress Shot (3)
Brisbie Island, Progress Shot (4)
Brisbie Island, Progress Shot (5)
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021
Dan Scott, Sunrise, Bribie Island, 2021

Additional Resources

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.

Happy painting!

Signature Draw Paint Academy

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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