Flight of the Seagulls


In preparation for a painting trip to New England, I studied the watercolor paintings of Philip Jamison.  He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania and also has a home and studio on Vinalhaven Island.  Two things in particular that I like about Jamison's paintings are the way he creates texture and his use of rich darks.  In this painting, I devoted three quarters of the composition to the foreground so that I could develop texture on the rocky beach.  As you can see, I used spattering, flicking, and fingerprints as well as a sponge loaded with warm earth tones.  Carefully placing transparent colors on top of lighter brushstrokes also added to the texture.

The large rocks settle down and look like they belong on the beach because of the soft and broken edges and their dark under shadows.  Even though these dark shadows on the rocks are almost black, they still have color identity because you can see their deep warm brown hues.  The water is cerulean blue with visible horizontal brushstrokes and I used a drybrush technique that allowed bits of white paper to show which created a sparkling effect.

It is unusual to have the darkest colors in the background but the placement of the white seagulls pushes the deep green trees back onto the distant shore.  Without the white seagulls, I probably would not have had the confidence to make the trees that dark.  The texture in the upper left of the distant trees keeps that horizontal shape from being to solid and boring.

Finally, painting the white seagulls pulled the painting together and created a focal point.  Now the lightest colors are placed against the darkest colors and that always commands attention.  Also, the movement of the seagulls adds a nice rhythm and life to the composition.  When it is safe to travel again, I will be heading back to New England for another painting trip.  Happy Painting!  Dennis Pendleton

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