High Seas, High Contrasts

posted in: Blog, Uncategorized | 8

The drama of waves crashing against rocks attracts us with its bright contrasts of sunlight and shadow, its dynamic continuity, always changing never static, its theatrical thunderous sound, and,  its sparkling explosions.

We are biologically hard-wired to attend to high contrast events like this. They steal our attention because of the possibility of peril and delight us for the same reason. We do not turn away from a subject so historically popular in art history. We recognize its aesthetic possibilities.  This drama offers an infinite aesthetic menu.

Just as Rembrandt played with wild untamable waves artists have continued to be enthralled with the subject while pursuing varieties of styles, concepts and depictions. From the 1930s I have two different examples.  In example 1 look at N.C. Wyeth’s stylized, crashing waves.   In example 2 consider Abraham Bogdanove merging expressive gestures with ideas of abstraction.

Example 1. N. C. Wyeth, Blackhead, Monhegan Island,

Example 2 Abraham J. Bogdanove, “Rocky Coast”,

With so many varied historical precedents to react to I have tried my own approaches. Example 4, “Waves in Moonlight” is one of my paintings from earlier this year. I can trace many influences such as Andrew Wyeth’s watercolor “Coming Storm” (example 5) and other night wave paintings by artists like Winslow Homer.

Example 4. Waves in Moonlight, oil on Dibond, 24×24,


Example 5. Andrew Wyeth, “Coming Storm” watercolor, 1938,

My following step-by-step examples present a mid-morning, brightly sunlit image of waves approaching rocks, not yet engaging them. Example 6 represents an early stage of the painting. Example 7 presents step two and, Example 8 presents the image in its current state.

Example 6, Bright Waves, step one, oil on Dibond, 24×36,

Example 7. Step two,

Example 8. Step three and the current state of the painting.

I invite you to join me in November at Art of the Carolinas, sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama in Raleigh, N.C. I have three one-day workshops. Friday, November 15, it’s “Spectacular Flowers” from 9 to 4, use code FR 1907 to register.  Saturday, it’s Water Scapes” from 9 to 4, use code SA1907 to register.  And, Sunday, it’s “Natural Patterns, Abstracting Nature” from 9 to 4 use code SU1907 to register. Go to artofthecarolinas.com to register.

I have a few openings in my Raliegh NC workshop at the Centerpiece Gallery. This is a three day workshop covering historical as well as new techniques and ideas. September 11 through 13. Call them at 919-838-8530 or, contact@thecenterpiece.com



8 Responses

  1. Trina

    Hi David,

    I love your art. You are very talented and knowledgeable. You care about teaching people while also educating us with art history. I have very limited funds but I will keep coming to your websites for inspiration. Be very proud of who you are.

    • dd_admin

      Trina, please forgive my tardy thanks. I appreciate your comments. Best, David

  2. Jim Olson

    Love how in your last example almost every rock (darks) are touching/connected like a long chain!
    Thanks for the great blog!

    • dd_admin

      Roman, Not sure when I will next be teaching in Florida. we do post my upcoming talks, classes etc. on the website under “Classes and events” on the homepage. Best, David

  3. Denise Petit

    Thank you for a wonderful session this summer. I will miss this till I am , hopefully, back in September. I pray that I get a spot!!!
    Your talent and experience are really amazing and the way you so generously share it all with us is a real gift to us.
    I’m so motivated and inspired to express in my paintings!!!!
    Very much looking forward to September!!!!
    Thank you, David.

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