When I chose to paint a photo from a trip to Miami, it immediately reminded me of a painting with a similar perspective by William Merritt Chase. And, boy, was I glad, because I wanted to see how someone else had rendered the rocks from foreground to background. My concerns were 1) keep the line of monotonous rocks interesting 2) create perspective without getting too detailed or too amorphous.
Like Chase, the rocks in my painting are the main area of interest. I gave a lot of space and detail to a couple of foreground rocks. I added texture, too with some palette knife work. Now how to keep it interesting and lead the eye back? I paid close attention to the shape of my rocks and how the light hit them. I went with more contrast between my shadows and light, keeping the light just on the tops. And then I had to give you a reward for following my dark path. Chase stops you in the middle of his painting with something orange lying on the rocks (a blanket? fishing equipment?), then you get to the titular lone fisherman, and finally a boat. I ask you to walk across all the rocks first to get to the cool, clear ocean, a sliver of bright blue sky, and finally a little hot orange crescent of a kite surfer’s kite.
The hardest part for me was pushing the high-rise hotels back far enough. When I took the photo, it was late afternoon. The buildings were deep in shadow and competing with the rocks. I landed on an abstract treatment to get them out of the way but still let you know you’re in a place like Miami. And isn’t Miami kind of abstract? You leave asking yourself, was that place real?
Later is what?
After settling into various desk jobs, I always said I'd get back to painting later in life, and later is now. Again means that I tried once before. I decided to write about my painting endeavor, too, as a learning tool, an accountability tool, and to stay sharp in case I have to go back to a desk job. Again.
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