Monday, 1 August 2016


Oak Bay Marina is near my studio and I often head down there for a quick field study or to gather reference for future studio paintings. I recently realized just how many there are and thought I would post some of them here.

 As you will see, many of them feature an old blue rowboat whose peeling paint and overall battered appearance really appealed to me. Imagine my dismay when I met the owner of 'my' old blue boat and he told me it had been lost at sea. And...he has replaced it with a newer, stubbier, less interesting boat.  I told him that simply wouldn't do!

The first painting I'm posting is called Over the Rocks, a 6x8 study. Looking through my files I found that I had photographed this one part way through, something that I always intend to do but usually forget.

The first two of the next 6x8's were painted with my little pochade box balanced on my knee while sitting on an overturned rowboat or a log. I tidied up the masts back in the studio as I find it isn't always easy to get them in cleanly out in the field.

I painted Rowboat at the Marina one morning when out with six friends. It is one of those rare paintings that go smoothly from start to finish. I liked it so much that I did a larger studio piece from the study and some photo reference.

Rowboat at the Marina   12x10
Shore Time  24x18

Several years ago I did several larger 24x24 paintings of the blue rowboat and have just recently completed two more.  I had a lot of fun with the first one, imaginatively called Blue Rowboat, playing with a looser treatment and simple colour scheme. I kept the background marina very uncomplicated really using only two colours. I repeated the blues and violets of the background in the rocks and in the boat.

I think the attraction for me in The Bicycle and the Boat, 24x24, was twofold.  The textures on the boat, especially the back area, and the bike up on the bank. I pushed the bicycle back a bit to increase the sense of space and to allow the boat to really dominate. As in almost all my paintings, the painting knives were used throughout.  I think this is particularly evident in the work on the sides of the boat and the rocks.

The next blue rowboat painting is Blue Boat Reflected, 24x24. This one is divided into three horizontal bands which could be problematic but varying the width and value of the bands allows it to work. I like to have areas of thin, even scratchy, paint along with thicker brush or knife work. I make use of the painting knife in various ways - in the bushes I alternated between laying in colour with a brush and 'messing' it up with the knife and applying paint with the knife and cutting back in with the brush.  I also used a knife to scrape paint away to create textures and to thinly apply paint in a scratchy way as on the boats and the grasses.

And the last one in the blue boat series is called White Boats on a Beach, 18x24.  The central boat is the one that replaced my dear old blue rowboat. In reality it is bright blue and very bright yellow, has a snub nose and is rather squat in appearance. But its position on the beach in relation to the others and the lighting appealed to me so I decided to use it but change its appearance. I elongated it, added the pointy front making it more like my old blue rowboat and put some oars and 'stuff' inside it. My first intention was to make it blue but I felt it worked better in this instance to keep all the boats white.

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