‘Sunset Over Water’

‘Sunset Over Water’ – Acrylic on canvas – 100 x 50 cm

I haven’t posted anything for a week or two, mostly because I’ve been working on this piece. I would have liked to post something to introduce the work when I started out, however it had to be kept a secret…

The reason is that this particular piece was painted as a wedding present and I didn’t want to release any ‘spoilers’ before the wedding. My girlfriend and I travelled down for the wedding last friday; through torrential rain and nose to tail traffic. However the rain held off for the wedding photographs, and everything went well. The newly weds have a strong connection with the outdoors, and I believe the proposal was made on a boat, so it seemed fitting for water and boats to feature heavily.

As with most of my pieces, the initial idea came from a bank of photographs I’ve collected over the years. However as the painting progresses, parts are changed, and bits added in. I’ve included a series of images of the work during the painting process:

A quick initial sketch is used to get the general shape and proportions right. Very little detail is drawn in as it’s lost quickly when the acrylic is added.

In order to get a feel for the colours and tone of each part, a wash of block colours is added. This also leads to a more intense final coloration.

The sky is started, colour shapers were used rather than brushes. The finish you get with them is similar to single broad brush strokes, however the silicone tips last longer than standard brushes when using large amounts of paint.

The dark tones of the sky are finished, using increasingly larger colour shapers as the clouds get closer.

There seems to be a running theme when I do a series of photographs, I always get carried away and forget to take them. This is the painting with just the nearest objects to finish. It has been photographed under glancing light, so you can see the texture of the paint better. The highlights were added to the sky and landscape late on in the process. It gives it a slightly surreal feeling, but I like the vibrant contrast between the dark shadows on the water and the highlights in the clouds.

The finished piece. The lighting wasn’t quite right, and despite getting lots of photographs, the lack of natural light (it seems more like November than July at the moment) has resulted in some of the tones being washed out slightly on the final image. Here are a few close up shots;

When you get up close to the details you can see the texture the silicone tips leave, it took a bit of practice to get the hang of it.

I’m pleased with the texture achieved for the wooded hillside. Because the shapers leave raised profiles to each stroke, varying the direction of the shaper changes the impression of the area. They can be used to hint at trees (as above), or to add form to rock faces and clouds (below).

Overall I’m really happy with how this piece turned out. I can now look forward to making some headway with the Durham skyline commission, so stay tuned.

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