Dick's Dinghy 6"x8" oil on gessobord
Sometimes I paint a boat because I’m asked to do it for a collector, but I often paint boats simply because they're pretty. And there are a lot of them in Maine, it’s a great hunting ground for classic boats. Usually I don’t have to go far to find good ones, because my friends have such pretty boats!
cropped photo with grid lines for Dick's Dingy painting
This boat belongs to my friend Dick, and I’ve been wanting to paint her for a long time. She’s got great lines. I’ve taken pictures of her for years. I would snap one as we went by her mooring in our boat or when I saw her out and about. But to get a really good picture for a painting, I needed to go around her slowly, in our dinghy, taking lots of photos. That way I could get her at a good angle with respect to the sun, and also get an interesting reflection. I was lucky to have the opportunity to do that last summer.
toned board with sketch in oil paint
From there it was a matter of getting a decent drawing from the photo, and laying in the initial values. First I toned the canvas with thin burnt sienna, a transparent brown that I like to use for underpainting, followed by drawing the basic structure with a brush. I used the grid lines on the photo above to help me get the drawing right. I don’t always do that, but it can be helpful as long as everything in the photo is about the same distance away from me, otherwise there is too much distortion in the photo. And for those of you who've been reading this blog for a while, you'll see the clear figure 8 this boat makes siting in the water.
Then I paint from the inside out, starting with the boat, then the reflection, and finally the background, which in this case, is the water. You can see that I take liberties with the water, but I always try to make sure the boat will float and also pass inspection by my mariner friends, who can spot a badly drawn boat a mile away!