Seascape Contrary Facts

Facts verses emotional content:

Okay, up till now in my previous seascape blogs, we have talked about the blurring of action and movement in seascapes, and how blurring creates emotional impact in your paintings. But now, we are going to discuss contrary facts, differences between blurring and detail. Not only where to put detail contrast but why it forms in those places.

Contrast facts

A5 watercolour: Contrast of edges, tone and colours makes a dramatic effect.

Blurring of action and motion:

  • Naturally foam and spray is blurred, especially in the shadows.
  • And of cause where water is forcibly hitting rocks and rushing over the rocks.
  • Also where the water of the wave is cascading forward and turning over the inner tapped foam.
  • Plus, mist and fog softens the scene and creates emotional appeal.

We need distinguishing facts to bring things into focus:

There can’t be only be blurring in your seascape paintings. We need for sharp edges and a certain amount of detail. But why contradictory?!

  • Well, if there is too much blurring, your painting won’t have recognizable details that states what’s actually happening in your painting.
  • So we need a certain amount of contrast, sharp-edged brushstrokes, neat contour edges and fine detail to bring things into focus.
  • And tonal contrast puts oomph into your otherwise blurry wishy-washy scene. If you don’t mind my watery pun!

Here are a few places you’ll likely to find those sharp-edged facts in seascapes:

  • The top-edge contour-ridge of a peaked wave just before it breaks and turns over. The reason it’s darker just at that point is that the water is starting to triple over and is slightly thicker (gathered and condensed) there and its weight drops forward.
  • A certain amount of value-definition is added just at the turning-curve of the wave. This little bit of darker definition contrasts with the clear sheer transparency of the water of the wave close by. You may not see this situation. It all depends on how the peak is formed in the moment of turnover action or if there is a returning tidal wave or undercurrent influencing the situation.
  • The undulating-contour or ridge-edge of incoming swelling waves, need inconsistency of blurred edges and sharp edges. Why? Because the sharp edges pronounce the power of the wave. And the blurring stops it from looking static. The variation in undulating lines and differences in edges is more comfortable than stiff neatness. Why? The variation creates breaks the neatness of the contour lines. And this is strangely bridged and subconsciously acceptable as people `read’ (peruse) your painting. Whereas on the other hand, neat contour edges cut up the painting into separate collage-like dimensions.
  • Even though turnover wave-foam is fragmented, there is a certain call here and there for a few sharp-dry-edged brushstrokes, to give the foam distinguishable form, especially as it falls within a darker area.
  • In the case of white’ water running off dark wet rocks in rivulets, the contrast gives your painting a dramatic touch.
Even though you may not be an artist reading this blog, its fun to make it a game looking for blurred and sharp edges when you visit the beach.

There are also other ways of softening and contour edge:

Blurring isn’t just having soft-edged brushstrokes (ie painting wet-in-wet method) but also using gradation of colour and tone. I can hear you thinking, “What is that, for what reason, how and where?”

  • What is it? Gradating colours and tones to create smooth visual transitions over potential problematic contours that could possibly restrict visual advancement.
  • Purpose: Thus assisting the eye to flow easier from one area or plane to another, thus preventing jerky visionary exploration of the painting.
  • How: Using similar colours and tones to that of the object or its contour.
  • Where in relation to the wave: Long-side the object, ie to the contour curve edge of pecked and turning waves.
Contrary facts

Variation and differences in tones illustration.

FACTS ABOUT COMPOSITIONAL STRUCTURE:

Aaah! Now the big deal:

Because rocks and cliffs are usually dark they stand out against `white’ foam, thus making a dramatic structural element in your painting. With all the blurring and blending of colours and tone, this solid structure gives strength and weight to your composition.

And the other factor, there must be some symbolic structure in your seascape to give it reason. People recognize rocks, cliffs, boats and birds. Adding up all these factors, they immediately recognize the scene as a seascapes and what is happening in your painting.

Stabilizing latitude and longitude `grid’:

  1. Latitude: Even though we spoke about making long wave contour-ridges inconsistent, their undulating linear formation does form a stabilizing factor that gives the impression that it `grips’ the sides of your composition (watercolour paper).
  2. Longitude: And anything that drops down from the top of your paper or protrudes upward from the base of your paper, forms a ‘gripping’ latitude stabilizing factor.

Note:  Even though these two `linear’ formations should form an in-consistent broken ‘grid’, and may not actually touch the sides of your paper, they are none the less subconsciously accepted as stabilizing composition factors.

  • Latitude examples: Horizon line, undulating horizontal waves, floating foam and scud rushing up the beach.
  • Longitude examples: clouds, rocks, birds, river outlets, wooden anchor poles, sun or moon reflections. Things don’t have to be perfectly perpendicular. Any oblique contour or action line will do, eg: cliff-faces.

Looking forward to hearing from you:

Please tell me your experiences in painting watercolour seascapes.  I’m sure others would like to know too. We learn a lot from each other. `Sharing watercolour secrets is caring’!

For more on painting watercolour seascape, start again on the introductory page.