As mentioned in the previous step, I concentrated on the water. Why did I make the the temperature of the water warmer in the background instead of cooler, as might be expected? It was important to unify the water with the warm colors in the ship.
Artists have many tools that enable them to create illusions in a painting. To create depth on a two dimensional surface, you can utilize linear perspective, temperature, contrast of value, intensity of color and detail. These are all ways to make objects or areas recede or come forward.
In the images below, #1 shows a warm and cool rectangle. You should perceive the warmer one as being closer to you.
The easiest way to make the warmer color appear to be further back, is overlapping, as illustrated in #2. The blue rectangle is obviously in front of the red rectangle.
Or, as in #3, you can make the warmer rectangle less intense or grayer. More intense colors are perceived to be closer to you.
And #4, contrast of value. Objects that are more contrasting, light against dark, appear closer.
The overlapping of the rigging and the sail of the ship will keep the warmer color in the water from coming forward too much.
Dark to Light!
There are not too many dark values in this composition, but it was important to establish the darks in the water, in the interior of the ship, and in the rowboat.
The biggest challenge was the water. This is a horizontal plane and to make it look horizontal, I needed to adjust the value from darker to lighter as I painted from foreground to background. The change of value needed to be about 15 percent. Too much of a change would make it look like it is an inclined plane, and too little would make it look like a vertical plane.
At the same time, I wanted the temperature to be warmer in the background–which seems contrary, because warm colors tend to be perceived closer to the viewer, with cooler colors in the distance. I will talk about that in the next step.
Tall Ships-First Steps
In this step I focused on establishing the major elements of the composition–making sure that the proportions and drawing of the ship and rowboat were correct before blocking in the larger negative shapes of the water.
Because the larger areas are lighter in value, I had to add some white paint to my colors. The added white does not dry as quickly, which slows down the process.
Adding light blue in the water itself was not a problem because it will be blended, creating softer edges on a later step.
Waiting for areas to dry gave me more time to establish some of the darker values in the ship and the rowboat.
Next, I began to focus on the larger area of the water.
Still in Isolation
With the pandemic still raging, I have more time to paint. Every so often I switch from my traditional watercolors to painting in oils. Because it is so different than my usual medium, it makes me concentrate more on what I am doing.
The procedure of painting light to dark in watercolor is the opposite with oil paint. I need to switch my brain into reverse to paint dark to light.
Several years ago, when the tall ships came to Chicago, I went to see them and took several photographs, one of which is below. The subject is actually one that I tried unsuccessfully to paint in watercolors.
I decided on a rather large format -22'x28" on canvas.
The first step in any medium is the drawing. With oil, I prefer to draw with the brush instead of using charcoal. I chose Indian red with turpentine for the drawing because it's a pigment that dries quickly, and allows me to start the painting within a few minutes.
The advantage of oil paints is that they dry very slowly which allows me to make corrections fairly easily. The disadvantage is that they dry very slowly! Unlike watercolor painting, where a layer dries quickly, waiting for a layer of oil paint to dry before putting down another layer takes too much time. I need another option.
Alla Prima (all at once) is my choice. If I paint thin to thick, the thinner paint will dry more quickly, allowing me to continue painting into wet paint.
Wish me luck! Steps to follow.