Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Drawing Boats

Drawing boats can be challenging on a number of fronts; getting the basic shape, making your boat float, and building believable reflections. A simple way to draw your boat uses a figure eight. Read through this post and you'll be able to see the figure 8 in the boat above.

Drawing Your Boat

The diagram above demonstrates drawing a boat using a figure 8. The figure 8 becomes the gunnels of the boat. The gunnels (or gunwales) are the tops of the boat's sides.

Step 1: Draw a figure 8 as in the diagram. Note that the right hand orb of the ellipse is smaller then the left orb. We'll make the smaller orb the bow.

Step 2: From the highest point on the right orb, draw a line down and to the left to create the bow, and another line down and to the right to create the stern. These lines can be somewhat curved as in the diagram or straight depending on the kind of boat you want to draw.

Step 3: Draw a line to connect the bow and stern. And connect the right side of the bow to the bottom of the boat.

Step 4: Erase the line that is dotted in the figure, which is not visible.

Step 5. If the boat has a square stern, draw a line across the back of the left side of the figure. If the boat has a square bow, follow the same process.

Floating Your Boat

To make a boat look like it's floating we need to understand the water line, which is the line that marks where the top of the water hits the boat. The waterline is flat (horizontal) if the boat is at eye level, just like in the photo of the blue lobster boat in the top photo above. Note that this is true even though we are looking at both the stern and side of the blue boat. If you've seen a boat in a painting that looks like it's going up hill, it's because this was not understood.

As you begin to look down on the boat more, it moves off the horizontal as in the photo on the bottom left. The more you can see of the inside of the boat, the less horizontal it will be in your painting. In the photo on the bottom right, where we are standing at the end of the boat and looking directly down on it, a line from the center of the bow to the center of the stern is vertical.

Note also that the figure 8 approach works best when we can see part, but not all, of the inside of the boat. In the bottom two photos where we can see all of the inside of the boats it's not as helpful.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Using the Pixlr Editor App to Posterize

Photo of Beaver Brook

In a previous post I introduced Carlson's Theory of Angles, a great approach to simplifying and understanding the values in landscape painting. Now I'd like to show another example, and a useful tool to help you see the values more easily. The photo above is Beaver Brook in Westford, MA, at a spot where I like to paint. Carlson's theory seems to be working, the sky is light, the marsh grass is a little darker and the trees are definitely the darkest. Is there a way to see this more clearly?

Yes, there is. You can turn the image to black and white, and then posterize it. Posterizing is the process of limiting the number of values in a photo. It's easiest to see in black and white, and we are looking for values, so that works well. You can do this with Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, but it can also be done with a free app on your phone, called Pixlr Editor (not Pixlr Collage, though I'm sure I can find a use for that one too!). It's available for iPhone and Android, and also for your computer. Below is a step by step demo.

Download the app to your phone.

Choose the photo that you'd like to process. you'll then be in the editing screen.

At the bottom of the editing screen, find Adjustment (second from left), and click that (see below).

Now you will see the screen below. Move the paintbrush slider to the left to change your image to black and white.

Click OK at the upper right, and you'll be back to the Edit screen. Now choose Effect (to the right of Adjustment) and find Posterize, near the far right, see below.

Click Posterize. You can use the slider to adjust the number of grays, the farther right you go, the fewer levels. Usually 4 works best, as we have here. Finally, click Save in the upper right. Now you have the posterized version, see below.

And Carlson's Theory is still looking pretty good.

Note: This can easily become a crutch, so use it to learn, but don't rely on it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

My 5 Favorite Islands You Can Visit by Ferry - #2 - Peaks

A Casco Bay Ferry departing Portland

I'll admit it, one of the best parts of a trip to Peaks Island is the ferry ride from Portland. Sailboats, Lighthouses, the civil war era Fort Gorges, lobster boats and buoys, there's a lot to see. 

The Windjammer Frances

Sparkle 10"x8" oil painting

Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse

The Ferry Landing at Peaks Island

But there's a lot of fun to be had on the island too. Just three miles from Portland, Maine, Peaks Island is home to almost a thousand year round residents and many more in summer. Imagine living on an island in beautiful Casco Bay, only a short ferry ride from the vibrant city of Portland. That  sounds idyllic to me. There is the Richard Boyd Art Gallery, several restaurants, interesting museums, and a wonderful road that follows the edge of the island all the way around. Rent a bike at Brad's Bikes, or bring your own, and take that ride. You'll see cottages, the rocky shore, the bay and the ocean, and lots of boats. Stop to visit the Fifth Maine Regiment Museum, where I once had a delightful tour full of great stories, and the Umbrella Cover Museum, yes, you read that correctly.

Peaks Cottages

The road around the island

For me, the bike ride with my plein air gear is the best part of a visit to Peaks. Most of Casco Bay is protected from the sea and lacking in surf. On the outside of Peaks, there's a rocky shore and a chance of a few waves crashing on the rocks. Perfect for doing some painting.

My painting, Rocky Shore, 8"x10" in front of that shore now covered by a higher tide

The ferry to Peaks leaves from Commercial Street in Portland with 16 trips a day in the summer.

My list of favorite islands is not being presented in order. Stay tuned for the other three.