Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Behind the Art: Rocky Shore

In featuring a lighthouse in the snow, I would suppose that most would expect the snow to be featured "behind the art".  But I have talked about snow in an earlier blog, so I looked at the reproduction of this lighthouse painting to consider something different.  Here we have waves on a steep rocky shore, and I think there is something to be seen that many painters of seascapes might miss.

We are used to seeing waves come rolling in on beaches and shallow shores.  There we expect to see big breakers roll in, or even perhaps small waves.  As the wave rolls in and the depth of water becomes gradually shallower, the wave sharpens and eventually tumbles over itself in a breaker.  In this painting we have a very different situation.  The rocky shore rises up very abruptly from deep water.  If we look at the sea as it crashes against the shore, we note there is no rolling wave as you would see on a beach.

On a beach, the shallow water forces the wave to peak and break, in deep water, the wave can travel right in against the rock face without having to peak like a breaker on a beach.  The wave expends its energy against the rocky wall, piles up on the rock and tumbles back into the sea.  If you look closely, you can see the streamlets of water pouring back into the sea as the wave dropped away from the rock.  So there is a lot of foam and turbulence right against the rock, but without the clearly defined waves rolling in that you see on a beach.

So, if you are painting a seascape against a steep rocky shore, make sure your waves are planned and painted to be consistent with what happens in the real sea; the waves are not at all the same as waves rolling in on a beach, and I think  this painting helps to illustrate that.

No comments:

Post a Comment