Sunday, January 17, 2010

Learning--Perspective Study--Jacksonville Pier Painting

Some paintings grow from an effort to learn or practice a particular skill. A few years ago, I worked on this piece primarily to practice handling perspective, trying to show the Jacksonville Pier extending into the distance. It was also an early attempt to capture ocean waves--not a simple task, either. Although it took considerable time and work, this is, in essence, a study--or a study plus some development. The painting itself is approximately 11" X 17", an acrylic on heavy acid-free art paper. Although it began as a study, it seemed worth having professionally mounted and matted when it was finished and now has an overall size of 18" X 24", which will fit a standard frame.
Given my math background and tendency to over-analyze some things, I tried to reason out the representation of depth in proper perspective on a flat surface. However, working carefully with several photos of the pier and struggling until the view looked right to me yielded a better result than all that meticulous figuring had. Interestingly, an exact scaling up of the pier and its pilings from photos to painting did not quite "look right", and I had to tinker with the sizing and spacing to achieve a realistic representation (at least, one that looked realistic to me). I am tempted to philosophize on appearances vs. reality or some silly thing, but will spare you that.
Question of the day: Is it just me, or is struggling to master something difficult more fun and rewarding than doing the things that come easily?


  1. Mary,
    your painting is terrific. The water and sky are amazing!! I just love this one!!

  2. Thank you, Manon--your response is very encouraging. Our skies and ocean are so beautiful that I never feel adequate to painting them. My hope is that my love for this lovely area will show in what I do.

  3. Yep, ocean waves can be tricky. You did a great job though! The perspective looks outstanding too!

    At least you were not scared to give it a try, and now it will be easy for you from here on out!!


  4. I love your art work. It is beautiful.

  5. I, like you, often over analyze. I have even taken out the ruler and counted 1/16ths in an effort to get it just perfect. Anyway, this is such a pretty scene and I love the distance you've captured and those elusive ocean waves! As to your question, the process might not be the most fun but when you do get something that was a challenge, it sure is more rewarding in the end!

  6. I appreciate your feedback, Lisa, especially since you know all about painting the ocean and much bigger waves than we normally see in North Florida. Nice of you to include a pat on the back for giving it a try, too. Aloha!

    Thank you very much, Bill! I know you are not given to empty praise, so your comment means a lot to me.

    Nice distinction you make in your response to the question, Autumn. It's so true that the process in taking on a challenge might not be fun, although I sometimes like the adrenalin surge of feeling out of my depth :>) I'm glad to know I am not the only painter making proportion calculations and checking with a ruler. Nothing wrong with that, I say--unless we get totally stuck there and don't let the painting emerge from within ourselves (or from wherever--sometimes they seem to come from another source altogether).

  7. It's a great painting Mary! The foreground is done beautifully; and I agree to be an achiever one has to attempt the more complicated and tricky things.
    Take care and thanks for sharing.

  8. Thank you for your helpful comments, Sadia. I appreciate the specific detail in your response. Yes, those tricky things . . . frustrating and yet important for that growing edge.