|Ocean II by John Hulsey, 30 x 40, oil painting.
The painting Ocean II
was created from a smaller
study created at sunrise on Isle of Palms, South Carolina. I liked
the composition and colors, and especially the way the wet sand mirrored the
sky so that they seemed to become one surface. The landscape painting study convinced me that an exciting
life-sized studio painting could be made of the subject.
My artistic goal was
to see how little detailed information would be needed to express this moody
sunrise over a calm sea. The painting was executed on a masonite panel that was
first primed with 3 coats of gesso over an initial coat of acrylic sealer.
Because I wanted to achieve very soft, semi-transparent, luminous colors in
this piece, I planned to paint it in a fresco-like style similar to the
techniques I use when watercolor painting. The idea is to paint all the colors
quickly, alla prima, working wet into wet, using a medium such as Neo Megilp to
keep the paint open, transparent, and workable for a longer period of time.
like to start with the sky. I apply all the colors with a 3" or 4" flat bristle
backdrop brush. At this point, I can add more color in layers to deepen and
intensify them, or remove color all the way to the gesso if need be. Once I
get the colors just the way I like, I switch to smaller bristle filberts and
brights and adjust the shapes and edges for surface excitement.
Next, I pay
close attention to the paint surface as the paint begins to set-up and becomes
less workable. At this point in the painting process I can also take another large, flat blending
brush and lightly blend and push the paint surface around to soften it wherever
it needs it. This can only be done for a few minutes and then the moment is
over. I then allowed the sky to dry thoroughly before any other
adjustments were made.
While I was waiting on the sky, I moved to the water. Working
carefully, I laid in my water tones using a slightly deeper version of the sky
palette. Again, the tones were glazed in wet with no details or hard lines. The
softening/blending phase followed and then I allowed the section to dry.
As soon as the paint was dry to the touch, I gave it a light
coat of retouch varnish to restore the wet look to the surface. When that
dried, I added the blue wave shapes and the very dark accents to build depth.
It is critical at this point to limit the amount of detail! Like good
gardening, good painting is a process of editing. In most paintings, convincing
suggestions of a few forms is all that is needed to create a 3-dimensional
sense of space.
For more on painting water and many other
in-depth articles about painting, visit us at The Artist's Road.
--John & Ann