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Gonna Need a Bigger Boat


Loose canvas pinned to my studio wall with lines painted with acrylic to define the design and determine boldest shapes, size 54×36.

Sometimes going bigger is the way to go. And the fishermen in ‘Jaws’ would surely agree. After exploring many boat paintings in a smaller format I decided now was the time to go bigger and see what happens. How would my process change and decisions that I make along the way be different than decisions made in smaller formats.


24×12 Preliminaries for the bigger boat painting. These helped determine a color scheme and how a vertical format would feel.

The red underpainting adds a unifying tone to subsequently painted colors. It is not intended as a final image color but will peek through painted areas and hopefully bring a sparkle-like effect as simultaneous colors vibrate against one another.  The painting on the lower left began with a red undertone and the one on the right began with a white undertone. Watching these colors interact with each other during the painting process helps me determine what colors I will use next in the early stages of painting.


A limited color palette helped keep this process under control as I worked to find a color scheme that worked for me. Muted tones blended nicely as I worked from sketches as this setup was completely made up from my memory of hanging around the waterfronts. (For painters, I have used white duct tape strips to crop the painting so I could get a better look at the final size. I stuck the tape back-to-back to get reusable 3″ wide strips.)

There are many layers of paint on top of paint on this one as I tried various color combos. I like the texture of the build up of paint and don’t mind the roughness of the surface. Actually I try to achieve a non-smooth surface in most of my work. My paint strokes reinforce the directional thrust of my design directing the viewer where I’d like their eye to go. Of course this concept is not foolproof but I find people enjoy this idea.


Taking a long look at my progress as I pin this to the side of my house on a cloudy day to evaluate many aspects. Next step, on to the framer to be put on stretcher bars.

I enjoyed the process of working much larger and designing a piece that has bold forms to match the overall bigness of the piece. As you can see there is nothing delicate about this work but I do like the way the muted colors provide a foundation for the deep blues as they define surfaces.

Lesson learned: If you never try it, you’ll never know. 

NOTE: This final painting ‘Beyond the Blue’ will be on display at the New Hampshire Art Association ‘Visions’ exhibit, opening reception on May 6th, 2016 through 28th. My painting series in this show is titled, ‘Along the Waterfront’, 15 new works of various sizes. Levy Gallery, State Street, Portsmouth, NH.

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Messy, uncommon, friendly contemporary landscape paintings inspired by the New England landscape

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