He’s Nobody’s Fool When It Comes to Putting a Painting Together

1 Jul 2014

Breaking the Light by Don Demers, 24 x 36, oil painting.
Breaking the Light by Don Demers, 24 x 36, oil painting.

Don Demers knows that inspiration is always there if you know how to look for it, but he's also nobody's fool—he understands that to create a breathtaking and moving painting you sometimes have to merge moments together for the greatest impact.

That goes especially for seascape and painting water. It is actually really rare to witness the kind of incredible natural beauty or breathtaking vistas that are often depicted in landscape art and ocean paintings. To expect that kind of excitement and power to emerge every time you set up your easel is a recipe for disappointment. But that doesn't mean unique and powerful moments don't occur. They just rarely share the stage with each other or, if they do, it is only for a fleeting moment.

That's where Demers' expertise comes in. In his landscape art, especially his seascapes, his approach is to fuse moments together for a final painting. He'll create three or four studies while he is out and will take them back into the studio and use the studies to create a final work. To me, that makes a lot of sense. Painting water can be such a matter of--no pun intended--fluidity and change, and this approach allows Demers to gets powerful results by piecing awe-inspiring moments together. I mean, really, how could you paint the crash and roar and glints and foamy spray of ocean shores and river convergences any other way?

Touches of Autumn by Don Demers, 10 x 8, oil painting.
Touches of Autumn by Don Demers, 10 x 8, oil painting.

I really like this approach because it doesn't put such pressure on me when I'm out there focusing on how to paint water. Wave paintings, especially, need this kind of approach to get the liveliness and movement of the water. In one study I can focus on the reflection of the sunlight on the water, in another it will be the color of the wave that occupies my attention. And through it all, I don't have to will a perfect moment to happen.

Acadian Cliffs by Don Demers, 12 x 14, oil painting.
Acadian Cliffs by Don Demers, 12 x 14, oil painting.
As Demers points out, altering and editing what you capture outdoors to make a better studio painting is where the creativity of an artist really comes into play. For Demers, about 70 percent of any painting is directly from one of his studies, and about 30 percent will be embellishments that he makes for the good and impact of the painting.

To learn how to strike this balance in your work and learn great methods in watercolor--a spectacular medium for painting water (no pun intended!), get your copy of Splash 15: Creative Solutions. It's a no-brainer. Enjoy!


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This 15th edition of Splash: Creative Solutions is all about finding the new discoveries of top contemporary watercolor artists. See the brilliant artwork created from happy accidents to carefully planning in this compilation of watercolor artwork.


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on 17 Oct 2011 4:48 PM

Don is not only a first rank artist he's a wonderful workshop teacher.

on 19 Oct 2011 2:00 PM

Don is of my favorite teachers- free with his knowledge, and always expects your best.  He's an excellent communicator, and an amazing artist.

on 23 Nov 2011 7:37 PM

Excelente pinturas