Viking Spirit!

Ahoy, avast, and all that. It recently occurred to me that it had been a year since I stepped aboard the Draken Harald Ha╠Őrfagre, a Viking great ship built in modern times, on September 1, 2018, while it was docked at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia. This educational visit prompted a 6- to 7-month (painting) voyage on my part, and I realized it had been about as long since I had completed it– without yet sharing it here with you. Lest anyone wonder, it wasn’t a solid 6 months of painting, but rather 6 months or so from start to finish. Sometimes I let her (the painting) sit docked, as it were, for a few weeks while I worked on other things & thought about what to do next. Also, this painting is not of the Draken, but it is decidedly inspired by the ship. I found the deep red sail of the ship particularly striking and thus chose a red color for my painting.

Here is the irrefutably concise–in comparison to a 6-month, day-by-day version–travelogue of this painting’s development. Medium: tempera & acrylic. 

1. An acquaintance had given me a sizeable twice-painted-over painting on hardboard (with hanging wire already installed) that she no longer wanted. I sanded and gessoed over the old image. (Photo might be of the second layer of gesso. Gesso is essentially a primer.)

2. Next, thumbnail sketches (drawn in the car during a road trip).

3. Starting to add base colors/underpainting. The painting was too big to do on a table or my easel, so I propped it against a bookshelf.

4. Adding local color & developing water. I like a number of qualities about the water at this stage– there’s a looseness, an energy, the play of light & dark–but somehow as the painting continued, it got tighter, more controlled, and, because the green water seemed a little too tropical for a Viking voyage, darker & bluer. If I ever paint another version, I’d like to try to keep that looseness.

 

5. Bringing focus to the ship itself, including the sail. Somehow, over the several months, the visual line/direction of the composition changed  from something more linear to a kind of whirlpool. The water in the above photograph is constructed in an angular/zig-zag manner up to the ship; over time I embraced the whirlpool or vortex spiraling around it. 

6. Completion. I took this photograph outside (because my apartment does not have great lighting), so the colors look a bit different than in the other photos. Somehow it also seems flatter…but it gives a lot of depth to the corner where it hangs in my apartment. Curious contrast. 

Ready to cross the North Atlantic?

Bilander

Today’s post features a drawing I completed for a gentleman who works Food Services at my new workplace. It was one of the best kinds of commissions:

“Will you draw me something?”

“Sure. What would you like me to draw?”

“Anything you want.”

The subject matter should come as no surprise.

Bilander

The vessel depicted is modeled on the bilander, a Dutch merchant ship. I believe they were constructed during the 17th century. Bilanders are fairly small (as most merchant ships are) and bare two masts, one of which (the main mast) is rigged with a lateen sail (the angled one). This drawing was finished quickly compared to other recent commissions. I kept it fairly simple and sketchy–and tried not to get caught up in the rigging!