Detail of Mellow Yellow 8"x10" oil on canvas panel
Whenever we’re out on the water, I’m looking at the boats with an eye to painting each one. I ask myself questions like: Is the shape appealing? Is it a classic? Is the lighting good? I snap photos on my phone and on my pocket SLR camera. Sometimes, we go dinghy and skiff hunting in our inflatable. My husband drives, and patiently goes round and round the boats while I take photos from every angle. And I look inside the boats. If it’s been raining and they haven’t been bailed out, they don’t sit right in the water, and that doesn’t make for a believable painting.
Back in the studio or on the couch, I go over the photos on my laptop. If there’s a boat I like, I try and figure out which angle of view would make the best painting. I crop several photo options and look again. And sometimes I ask my social media friends for their opinion. I did that early this year with these photos of a cheerful yellow rowboat that we saw the previous summer. The left most (top) photo got more votes by a wide margin. It’s also the one I like best.
And that photo leads me to a great example of how to draw a boat. In fact, the crux of painting small boats like this one, is the drawing. Once you get the boat shape right and get it sitting in the water, the rest is like any other painting.
The standard method for drawing a boat is to use a figure 8, as in the image above. This works best if you can see some of the inside of the boat. These are the steps:
Step 1: Draw a figure 8. Note that the right hand orb of the ellipse is smaller then the left orb, when the bow of the boat is towards the right.
Step 2: From the highest point on the right orb, draw a line down and to the left to create the bow, and another line down and to the right to create the stern. These lines can be somewhat curved as in the diagram or straight depending on the kind of boat you want to draw.
Step 3: Draw a line to connect the bow and stern (if the boat is in the water, this line will be under the water as in this painting). And connect the right side of the bow to the bottom of the boat.
Step 4: Erase the line that is dotted in the figure, which is not visible.
Step 5. If the boat has a square stern, draw a line across the back of the left side of the figure.
At the stage above I'm starting to work on the reflection. The trick with the reflection is to keep it directly under the boat. It’s really fun to paint the abstract ripples reflecting the blue sky and the yellow side of the boat. It's a push and pull of the two colors against each other.
Framing is the last part of the job. What do you think, dark frame or gold frame?