This painting depicts a trimaran which was moored a short distance offshore at Dalgety Bay Sailing Club, near my home. I took it (when it was only halfway complete) to Dunfermline Art Club, so that I could demonstrate my approach to painting reflections to an audience of other artists.
Doing a demo
I’ve often done ‘demos’ (short for ‘demonstrations’) for art groups. A demo involves working on a painting while a group’s members look on, at the same time describing the process out loud. The duration is typically 2 hours, or more like 90 minutes with the inevitable coffee break. Because of the time constraint, I find it’s best to keep the overall subject relatively simple, as I have with Trimaran. Even so, it’s necessary to introduce some element of complexity to keep the audience interested. In this case, at the request of the demo organiser, the complex bit I focused on was the reflections in the water.
In very calm water, a boat will have a reflection that is a mirror image (or something close to it). If the water surface becomes rougher, the reflection will start to break up. On really rough water, with big waves, the boat will probably yield no reflection at all. With Trimaran, the water under the boat was almost calm, moving only slightly, producing broad, flat wavelets. This was enough to give a fragmented reflection with a very linear quality to it.
The trouble with demo paintings
When doing a demo painting, I need to paint quickly enough to show the audience some reasonable progress. I also have to tell people what I’m doing and answer their questions. And, as most clubs use video equipment to project the demo onto a large screen, I’m working with tripods, lights and cables all around me. None of this makes it easy to turn out a decent painting. Normally, when I get home, I decide the demo painting is sub-standard and it goes straight in the waste bin. I’m happy to say that didn’t happen with Trimaran – it worked out quite well, if I say so myself.
Blue and orange
Clearly, Trimaran is a mostly blue painting. I left some highlights white, by which I mean the white of the paper. Then I included greys and blacks for shadow detail, but those have blue mixed into them. To add pep, I used orange – blue’s opposite – for the two buoys and what I believe is a cover on a vertical object at the stern of the boat. Just don’t ask me what that object is. I’m no sailor, I haven’t a clue!
Unframed watercolour painting. Size 8.5 x 11.8 inches / 21.5 x 30 centimetres.