I say this a warning to all fellow bloggers out there: do not attempt to blog while listening to “A Prairie Home Companion” on your local public radio station.

Reasons to turn off A Prairie Home Companion while blogging:

  1. Garrison Keillor’s voice is alternately distracting and sleep-inducing – you’ll never be able to focus on typing.
  2. The constant references to “English Majors” will make you debilitatingly self-conscious about your sentence structure and grammar.  (Although, in small doses, a little more attention to these things probably wouldn’t hurt.)
  3. The News From Lake Woebegone, Ruth Harrison Reference Librarian, The Lives f the Cowboys, and Guy Noir will all make you think you’re living in a time before the internet was invented, a belief that is obviously contradicted by the computer in front of you, which will cause an anachronism-induced brain freeze.

Your brain freezing up would be bad.  Your computer freezing would be worse.  The water that you are trying to sail your ship through freezing would be catastrophic.

It is just such a fate that appears to have befallen the subjects of the latest watercolor:


It seems that ships have had some sort of pull on me lately, having recently appeared in three of my compositions: this one, New Haven, and Adrift.

As usual, the idea for the piece came from an old black-and-white photo.  The colors and configuration of the ice were inspired by Caspar David Friedrich’s “The Polar Sea”.  A good number of preparatory drawings and paintings went into this piece, and I used the Friedrich painting (in a book) and some instructional watercolor books as reference as well.

This picture is almost a two-tone painting.  The sky, water boats, and most of the foreground started as a combination of cobalt blue, sap green and sepia.  A splash of yellow livens up the foreground ice, and barely tints the lower reaches of the sky.  It wasn’t until almost the very end that I added some warmer hues to the boats, some pinks and purples to the middle left areas, and a healthy smattering of icy aqua all around.

The balance of the forms was the hardest part.  I wanted the main boats to be very imposing, and contrast sharply with the misty, frozen expanse around them.  However, some dark patches were needed to “ground” the boats – to connect them to the landscape.

Still, it wasn’t coming together.  The medium sepia-colored patches about one third from bottom on the left side were added at the last minute and saved the day.  Finally, a few additional fracture lines in the ice sheets (the blue ones on the right) really made everything come together.

Like the scene in “Adrift”, it’s unclear just how bad the situation is.  There appears to be some open water.  Will the boats be freed?  Or, have the living crews already abandoned them, as their ghostly appearance perhaps suggests?

This entry was published on September 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm. It’s filed under Watercolors and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

8 thoughts on “Passage

  1. Pingback: At Ocean « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

  2. Pingback: The Next Move « Gabriel Garbow | Artworks

  3. This is really beautiful, I love it.
    Wish you a wonderful day Gabriel.
    Nikki x

  4. Beautiful painting, Gabriel. I love the touches of blue green. Wouldn’t be the same without it.

  5. Hauntingly cool feel to this one, Gabriel! I can actually hear the silence. I like the boats, but I love the reflection. Another good one!

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