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Painting Boats: Dynamic Dimensions

Painting Boats: Dynamic Dimensions

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Painting Boats: Dynamic Dimensions

5/5 (1 rating)
239 pages
1 hour
Aug 26, 2013


Painting boats with watercolor can be exciting and challenging.
Discover how to: -
- simplify drawing boats.
- harness the energy in the water.
- use the character of wharves and jetties where boats are found.
- use the figurative element for scale.
- exploit the energy of your brush mark.
- use the variety of subject matter under the painting boats umbrella.
- create exciting compositions from nautical subjects.
- paint a still-life using boating accessories.
There really is something for everyone in the world of painting boats.

A new inspiring volume in this series of “Painting With Ev Hales” series that will not disappoint, with over 130 images and clear instructive text.
Aug 26, 2013

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Painting Boats - Ev Hales


1. Introduction

Boats are so inextricably tied to humanity that it is almost impossible to imagine life without them. Different forms of boats have been part of all aspects of life for as long as man has existed. If there is a body of water the challenge to see what is on the other side always was, and still is, irresistible. The mystique and intrigue still exists today.

There is a wealth of material for an artist under the ‘painting boats’ umbrella. I plan to explore this subject from a number of different viewpoints. I start with strategies for drawing boats to help deal with the organic character of all vessels. A variety of drawing techniques will be discussed that are useful for the varied and challenging places and situations where you find boats.

Proportion is an important component because you will see boats small enough to be carried by one man, to vessels that are literally cities afloat, and a whole range in between. Identifying the size of a vessel is often established by what it is near or what is on it. Generally people will photograph their boat subjects and this can add to the anomalies around the boat’s proportions as the camera lens distorts the images captured. Discover ways to identify and clearly communicate whole scale and proportion to your viewer.

Locations and settings that frame and place a boat provide a new exciting opportunity for you as an artist. I will explore the range from a single ‘portrait’ view of a boat to boats as a whole collection, both in the water and on the land. Water will constitute a large part of many paintings involving boats. Therefore I will look at a variety of ways to use this ‘rest’ area in a dynamic way to complement or to work as a foil for the boat itself.

For some that is enough material and all they look at when dealing with a boat subject. However the boat is just one small facet. Beyond the boat there are a numerous activities that support the boating industry. A glimpse into this world is a little like lifting the lid on Pandora’s Box. Chapters 8, 9 and 10 are devoted to different facets of this world — from the accessories, to the characters associated with boats, to the harbors and jetties where boats are moored. All this material is just waiting for an artist’s eye.

In other words, be prepared for several years of work to fully explore the wealth of interesting subject matter that will be examined in this volume. If you love painting boats, come and share my view. If you have never been game to even try to draw them, look at some of the simple strategies that may enable you to begin. Perhaps you will find something associated with boats that you have never thought about exploring that will let you into this world, by the backdoor, so to speak.

Are you game?

2. Drawing Boats

Drawing boats can be problematic but so much fun.

Challenge 1 - There are few ‘right’ angles (as in 90º angle) on a boat. This is a measurement we are all familiar with and can draw without thinking. Without this standard starting point, some people are lost before they start. Nearly all lines on a boat have some kind of curve.

Challenge 2 - If the boat is on the water you have a moving target that can make the whole process more problematic. One moment a hull will be long and the next moment, as the boat swings on its anchor, the hull appears half the length.

Challenge 3 - The need to make the boat look ‘right’. In dry dock boats look incredibly out of proportion. So much of the hull is usually under the water, when this is exposed the boat can appear a cumbersome shape losing its customary sleek look. The same thing can occur when viewing a boat from certain angles. Dealing with these issues can be challenging.

What are these three issues telling you? The usual rules and strategies that you can use for painting and drawing most anything else need some modification when dealing with a boat subject. To do this successfully you need to invest some time looking at boats and thinking about them in terms of shape and proportion in order to be able to draw them well. The time spent developing this skill is well spent if you want to use boats as subject matter.

In this chapter I pinpoint the critical facets that are helpful to draw boats that look like boats, developing the techniques and expertise to enable you to replicate what you see.

Why draw from the real thing and not from a photograph?

From a photograph

The proportions of your boat will not be ‘real’ because the camera lens will distort the shape in order to fit it all into the picture frame. Therefore true accuracy in a proportional sense is best estimated on site. The camera is perfect for all the fine tuning and detail, but can throw the proportion, really out of kilter. In an ideal world I would sketch the basic shape on site and add any details from a photograph at my leisure. If you understand the camera’s limitations you can develop ways around it if it is an issue for you.

Drawing on location

Firstly you must establish your base reference measurement.

Choosing a reference measurement

A reference is your selected length that you will compare with every other measurement. In a building it may be the height or length of the wall. It does not matter which one because they will not change. When drawing a boat you will be in trouble if you choose a horizontal line as your base measurement. Verticals are essential for a standard, unchanging reference point. This is important if you are working from a photographic source, but absolutely critical if working on location.

In Figure 6 the height above the water of the bow on both boats would be an ideal reference point. This drawing shows clearly how the horizontal axis changes the whole look of a boat.

Therefore my base reference measurement must be chosen from a vertical source on the boat itself.

This might be the height of the cabin to the waterline, or the mast to the cabin, or the prow to the waterline. None of these measurements will change with the movement of the boat or with changing levels of the tide. You cannot use a measurement against the jetty, from the deck to the jetty or walkway, because, as the tide changes, the distance between these two points will alter.

As long as you remember to use a vertical reference all will be well. If you start with a horizontal reference you may as well pack up, and go and have a coffee, because everything you do will be wrong. If the boat is on the water and the water is moving, anything on the horizontal axis is constantly changing.

If you do not understand what I mean –

1. Pick up a tissue box.

2. Hold it at arm’s length with the longest side facing.

3. Hold a piece of paper or a ruler (the short side of an A4 sheet

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