What IS it with you and the sea?

Someone I know and love said recently “What IS it with you and blue jeans?” Perhaps it is the blue. Seascape painters use some blue – one of my favourite colours.

Just back home after a short break beside a very wild beach with a roaring sea, quite a long drive from home. Now asking the “What is it…” question about the sea. So many people have painted the sea (and still do).  There are seriously talented marine artists who often paint ships, ports and sometimes sailors. Over the centuries the sea has been a background element or a powerful force in epic narrative paintings. JMW Turner springs to mind. Much of the popular fascination with the sea seems to be romantic – the beauty and power of the waves, the ‘eternal’ quality of the oceans. The beach can be a meditative place.

How to make an artwork that is not sentimental, not just a ‘pretty’ picture? Something with some edge, something gritty?

Everything starts with composition and a big part of the impact is the tonal range of the painting. Sometimes my paintings of waves are very high key and this paleness brings its own challenges. It is tempting to add masses of detail. As an antidote, I plan to try some flat planes of colour so suitable for acrylics and used in the painting above. Let’s see where that leads. How would you tackle it? Any suggestions?

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