This month’s featured artwork is On the Sands by Winslow Homer. It was done with several mediums: watercolor, gouache, pen and ink, and graphite. It’s a moody and understated painting, but there’s a lot going on.
(Click here to download a higher resolution photo of the painting.)
Brief details about the painting:
- Watercolor and gouache with pen and black ink over graphite.
- 13.2 x 18.8 inches (33.7 x 47.8 cm).
- Completed 1881.
- Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Use this as an opportunity to test your ability to analyze master paintings. In the comments below, share what you think are the top 3 most important aspects of the painting. These could relate to areas such as composition, color, value, progress, brushwork, subject, or symbolism. Once you have done that, you can compare your thoughts with my own in the drop-down below.
Click here to see my thoughts.
- The different mediums work together in harmony. Each serves a specific purpose in the painting. Watercolor for the ambience and thin washes. Gouache for its opaque qualities. Pen and ink for sharp outlining. Graphite for the initial sketch. One of the downsides of painting in oils is it does not play as well with other mediums.
- There’s a dramatic sense of atmospheric perspective, with the people and boats being fainter and more ambiguous in the distance. This plays into the moody atmosphere. On cloudy, foggy, or misty days, the effects of atmospheric perspective are more extreme. It reminds me of my painting Maryvale, Foggy Morning.
- I’m not sure what the context of the painting is, but it doesn’t seem positive based on the environment and the restrained colors. The painting’s name also does not provide any hints as to what the painting is about. It’s up to us to draw our own conclusions.
- Activity is concentrated around the middle of the painting. Notice the increased contrast, the dark accents, and the bursts of red and blue.
- The bare paper is exposed in some areas and acts as highlights.