Acadia Surf at Twilight, 18x24, acrylic on linen panel, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011
This is the first of the studio paintings based on my plein air studies and photos from my recent trip to Acadia. It was difficult approaching this subject matter in the studio when my initial sketches were done while actually viewing this amazing scenery. I struggled to find a way to synthesize and interpret all of the wonderful experiences that I had while there on the canvas. There is something to be said for letting your actual experience of painting a scene en plein air be filtered through time and memory. That interval between being there painting and recalling the scene in my studio allowed me to be able to resist being overwhelmed by many details and to focus on the composition of the piece as well as its emotional content and overall mood.
Technically there is a lot going on, on the surface of this painting. The multiplicity of textures was necessary to really differentiate between the very different and strong components of the landscape: air, clouds, trees, rocks water and surf.
Here's a detail of the breaking surf...
There are also layers of impasto, though less built up, in the clouds and many layers of thick acrylic gel medium built into and over the rocks to give them visual weight, solidity and to preserve brush stokes, as well as to create the smooth, glistening sheen of wet rocks.
This painting is composed of many layers of thin glazes, transparent and opaque paint, impasto in different degrees and veils of scumble. All of those are carefully balanced so as to not to distract from a unified and harmonious whole.
The sea is such an integral part of the Acadia landscape that I have pulled my two favorite seascape painting books off the shelf for a review while I am simultaneously reading Ian Robert's book, Mastering Composition.
I have a scene in mind for my next piece that will probably be in a square format. Squares are always interesting to work on and require a different way of thinking about the landscape which naturally lends itself to a rectangular format. And though I fear it may be a cliche this next painting may include a seagull, which I hope to keep from being comical looking though I find them to be comical birds. Stay tuned.