An artist must have vision — not the ordinary, brain-controlled, physical quality we know as sight — but an imaginary vision that comes from somewhere within. We have to be able to see what isn’t there, to conjure up images that go beyond our limited human perception, and then we must find a way to capture what we alone can see and find a way to bring it out and expose it to the real world.
Great artists have this talent. Beginning artists may also have the ability to see the unseen, but others — like me — must work to develop our vision and the ability to look within.
This imaginary seascape scene is one such attempt. It comes from several days of indecision and uncertainty.
As far as paintings go, it isn’t much, but despite its simplicity — or perhaps because of it — I like this painting. For once, I was able to stop, turn, and walk away from my easel before I destroyed all that I liked.
Now, let me tell you the story of this painting. This particular canvas panel has been many things in its short life. It was first a beach with bits of grass and driftwood here and there. I hated it and threw it into the recycle bin. Next, it was a sunset sky overlooking the ocean. I loved the sky but hated the water, and the colors weren’t good. Next it became a rather odd-looking tree which was quickly wiped away. It was very briefly an ugly attempt at an abstract oil. Not a good idea, I decided. I wiped everything away again and started over.
As I looked at the canvas and wondered what to do with it, old memories came to mind. I recalled a sunset seascape watercolor painting I’d done last summer. I thought about recreating the scene in oil.
I began by creating the sky, and I added in the ocean and rocky shore. Next, I worked on the foamy waves rolling in, and then I stepped back. Although I could see the completed scene with the rocks and buildings in the background, I didn’t see any reason to add them. I actually liked the painting as it was. It’s unfinished, I suppose, but that incomplete quality lets me use my imagination freely.
You might be able to tell that I did a little “tweaking” and attempted to add a bit of white to the sky to give a feeling of more light.I have since gone back and smoothed out the colors directly above the horizon.
There were any number of things I thought about adding to the picture. I might have added more shadows and crevices to the rocky shoreline at the bottom right. I even thought about adding a few sea birds in the sky.
Each time I picked up a brush, however, I stopped, looked again at the picture, and saw with my imagination a scene that I loved. I liked the simpleness. The unfinished quality about the painting allowed my imagination to see what could be there. I didn’t need to add anything.
In time, I hope I will be able to add more details to my paintings, but I’ve learned that there are times when details might actually spoil what the imagination sees. For me, this was one of those times.
I hope you, too, can look at this seascape and imagine all that might be there.