What a lovely September day.
There’s nothing quite as magical as a bright autumn afternoon by the seashore. The sky is golden with sunlight. The cool sea gleams like blue-green crystal lapping on the beach. In the distance you can hear seagulls, as the three tall masts of a majestic ship fade eerily into the horizon.
Whoa… Now that’s a whole different kind of magical!
It’s also an apt description of the painting called “New Haven”. Only, it fails to mention two down-on-their-luck-looking youths sheltered under an old beached rowboat.
This scene is the latest in the series that began with “Up the Hill” and “Adrift”. Like the former, it includes a kid with a haunted look in his eye addressing something or someone outside of the picture-plane. Like the latter, it incorporates a maritime theme, seems to suggest some distressing situation, and was also based on an old black-and-white photograph. But more on that next time.
I’m really happy with the way this one turned out. A lot of preparatory studies went into it. The colors really sizzle, even though the overall color scheme isn’t what I had set out to create.
One of the main strengths of this work are the gestures of the two kids, even if the anatomy of the nearer figure’s legs is a bit weak. The feet on both of them are just right, though, and the articulation of the toes on the closer foot is possibly my favorite feature of the whole picture.
While the details (or lack thereof) on the dinghy would probably throw a real boat enthusiast into a tizzy, the overall shape of the thing is rather pleasant. The contours, as defined by the strong shadows, really give the boat a feeling of mass. The lettering turned out nicely, and the wood grain – though a tad stylized – is fun as well.
As for that sailing ship: I did a number of preliminary sketches in order to get the galleon-looking vessel to feel right. That way, when it came time to paint it on the finished piece, I was able to nail it on the first try – without having to go back in or touch it up at all.
The foreground shadows and grasses are probably the weakest part of the piece. They simply got away from me. It probably wouldn’t have happened if I’d practiced a little more, but sometimes you just have to cross your fingers and put the brush to paper.
All these elements come together to make a picture that could be an entirely prosaic scene from a bygone era, or it could depict a turning point in some fantastical adventure. Is the boat in the background real or a phantom? Are the kids stranded or just resting? What is the brown-haired boy looking at?
You don’t expect me to answer these questions *for* you, do you?
Leave your own interpretations in the comment section below…