This is a fairly large, close to full sheet 140 lb rough watercolour painting, one of several that I just prepared for my 2nd solo exhibit for GOMA Gallery ExaART in Osaka Japan. At gallery owner Yoji Teraoka’s request he invited me to create paintings of Canadian Pacific Coast landscape, seascape and flora and fauna that grow here in Beautiful British Columbia Canada.
For over 45 years my husband and I have owned our own small boat commercial fishing vessel, fishing in the traditional methods of gillnet and gang-troll fishing. I was delighted the painting impacted him because I consider him to be my best authority and critic on how boats on the coastline are most effectively painted. You can imagine that he has experienced every possible weather condition. He’s a very good fisherman.
How did I paint this?
I enjoyed painting this large watercolour with a plan to use a fairly neutral colour scheme in order to allow the bright orange bumpers to pop. I generally start with the sky first – a big wet wash that comes from a limited palette of Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine Blue and New Gamboge Yellow. Those particular colours are translucent and yield rich darks. It’s important to have large pools of rich consistency paint much like heavy table cream. Make lots of it! You can’t expect a small amount of paint to cover a big surface so it’s always better to have big pools. I like to try and mix colour right on the paper. This makes for the best colour. Often I’ll let the first washes cover the entire surface however I held back wetting the middle ground and foreground water because I wanted to be more careful with what the water was going to reflect such as specific trees and boats. The boat details were carefully drawn however because they are located middle distance I try to avoid too much detail. If you can’t see it don’t draw it. It’s good to plan keeping the shapes linked together. The trees were slightly indicated with pencil marks that I would develop with brushwork, not “paint-by-number” shapes to fill in. Let the brushwork “draw” the trees on dry paper. I discovered something while painting this particular piece. Initially I only painted in the closest dark trees and I found it to be too empty. I worked the background trees in after with gouache. Of course watercolour and gouache can be intermixed and in fact are very traditional, known as “body colour”. I use Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White – a designer’s gouache that covers well and can be painted over top of existing dry paint without it bleeding through. Lately I’ve been using it to replace masking out areas with masking resist. With my painting style, leaving the white of the paper with controlled brushwork is far superior. Once I was satisfied with the background trees, rocks and boats I wet the foreground water. On fairly wet paper I flooded in the 3 primaries with a big 2 inch sky-wash brush and let the paint mix together. Then I glazed areas after it was dry where I felt it needed to be darker such as the foreground. Where the water looks sparkly I used the dry brush method and “scumbled” paint across the rough paper. In other places I splattered the Bleed Proof White to give it a few sparkles in the water. This is something you don’t want to overdo. Notice as well the vertical reflective marks the paper. Some of those where lifted out while the paint was wet. The final calligraphy details in the trees, boats, reflections etc are painted with a #6 Rigger – a gem of a brush that creates all sorts of quick strokes which loosen things up.
And now husband Bob’s reaction:
Little Boats in Big Weather
“I found that this painting really caught my attention because I so often deal with getting up just before daylight and the boat being anchored up in some safe place. There’s often a lull between storm systems. You have to try to decide what the weather is going to be doing. It looks like those two boats in the painting are venturing out of a safe little anchorage on their way to see if it’s possible to fish … something that I’ve gone through so many times thinking “the weather’s not good today and how are we going to deal with it?” It kind of moved me because it is two boats … a good feeling that there is another able crew near enough to call on the radio. If there was help needed by one or the other they would be happy to come from far away to give me help. For me it emphasizes the brotherhood that exists among those who fish.
When I travelled with our son in Japan and we met commercial fishermen there we were able to sense the same brotherhood despite language and culture.
I like the mysterious misty quality of the background in the painting. It calls to mind so many days when there is a feeling of participating in a great mystery, working on the face of the North Pacific.”
Bob Burkosky – CFC BC Maid II