Set Adrift

 

 

Water has been pretty scarce across the middle of the country this year.

Fortunately, it’s plentiful in this painting from a week ago.  Work on this piece got underway as soon as the paint dried on the “Up the Hill” picture (see this post, and suggest a caption).

The palette is a little brighter, and a little bluer.  More importantly, the paint application is a little looser.  There are fewer layers of overlapping color, and therefore a markedly less muddy look.

Just what one would hope for in a sea-scape like this.

The composition is based on a black-and-white photograph from a book on “Great Photographers”.  Unfortunately, someone forgot to take a photo of the source photo.  I’ll try to get that up in the following post.

The original had one or two more figures in the boat, and the scene was much less ambiguous.  The men were just paddling to or from a larger ship where they worked, presumably.

I reconfigured the placement of the men, added the color, and made some tweaks here and there.  The inspiration for the color of the choppy sea was from examples I found in three different watercolor instruction books that had been hanging around the studio.  Like the hill piece, I wanted the tense action to be taking place in cheerful weather.

The water turned out very successfully.  One of the fun parts is how the waves become deeper in color on the shadow side of the boat.  The sea spray is also fun.

Perhaps the best part of the illustration is the varied stances of the men on the boat.

All of them seem to be confronting things bravely, but handle their situation (whatever it is) differently.  The central character plants himself firmly against waves, the upper left man seems balanced, but aloof.  Just beneath him, the one in the hat is thrown by the waves, but seems determined to keep his footing, while the wide-eyed young guy on the right provides the best indication that some very bad is going down.

But what could it be?  Let me know what *YOU* think is going on in this picture.  What do you like about it?

In the next post, I’ll walk through the process of making this picture, with  the most extensive collection of preparatory studies undertaken thus far.

See you then.

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This entry was published on August 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm. It’s filed under Figures, The Artistic Process, Watercolors and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “Set Adrift

  1. Pingback: At Ocean « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

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  3. Pingback: Passage « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

  4. Pingback: Lurid Noir « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

  5. Love the picture. The shadow of the long ore reflected on the main figures body is a bit much or too bright, but I saw the actually photo and it is strong??? (maybe kind of bright, which makes it look weird to me)

    • Oh, John… you’ve made my day! I’ve waited the better part of a year to finally hear from someone about something they didn’t love about a piece. It sounds a little crazy to be this happy about objective feedback, but I crave it. I know full well that, along with their charms, my works also have their deficits, and it’s such a gift for someone to help pinpoint them.

      That said, my first instinct was to defend my choice – to say that I like a strong, almost surreally-lurid line. I had indeed intended it to be suggestive of a bloody gash. But I looked at the picture again, and have to agree: the strength of the shape is not so much a problem as the redness of it. If I redo this piece, I’d neutralize and darken the shadow on the guy’s chest, but perhaps keep the hue brighter where the shadow falls across his pants.

  6. At the very first glance I got the feeling that they were escaping in hope to get to a better place, maybe escaping from their slaves condition… But that’s just a blurry feeling.
    Very strong composition, I love the colors, the skin tones and the way you managed the waves around the boat, it’s (once again) very lively!

    • Lively is what I strive for! Thanks so much for your thoughts, Calamity.

      I wholeheartedly agree there is a strong sense that the men on the dinghy are escaping from something. Not sure why, but slavery never crossed my mind. But I really wanted the picture to have enough ambiguity that a wide range of interpretations are perfectly valid.

      • I’ve found that lively is often the best word to describe your work, so that’s a success then!
        It’s always a pleasure, Gabriel.
        It looks like the beggining of an adventure, that’s for sure. But I’m curious to know, what you had in mind? Even just a few thoughts or something…

      • I had this vague notion that the guys were retrieving something from the water… something important enough that they were risking choppy waters. Like from a wreckage. That’s really all I’ve got. From there, things could take a more interesting turn, and they may find themselves embarking on some sort of adventure. Hmmm….

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