Saturday, 28 February 2015

Columbus - Step by Step

Here's another new painting I've done.

It was inspired by a book called Flotsametrics and the Floating World by scientists Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano.

Ebbesmeyer became obsessed with floating garbage - from rubber ducks to discarded Nike trainers - and where it travels to and from. In particular, he was fascinated with discovering the fate of some 29,000 'friendly floatees' children's bath toys - red beavers, green frogs, blue turtles and yellow ducks - that were swept overboard in a container in 1992.  (I blogged about it in some depth back in 2012 - you can read it here). Ten months after the incident the first Floatees began to wash up along the Alaskan coast. The first discovery consisted of ten toys found by a beachcomber near Sitka, Alaska on 16 November 1992, about 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from their starting point. Ebbesmeyer and colleague James Ingraham contacted beachcombers, coastal workers, and local residents to locate hundreds of the beached Floatees over a 530 mile (850 km) shoreline. Long story short, by logging the travels of the Floatees plus lots of other lost items, Ebbesmeyer was able to revolutionise ocean science by showing that ocean currents don't work like we assumed they did.

Anyway, I thought it would be great to do a painting that captures the loneliness of the long-distance rubber duckie. And, to give a sense of space, I figured I'd need a big canvas to convey the smallness of the duck.

So, I picked a 24" by 30" by 3/4" box canvas and 'got rid of the white'.

I hated it almost immediately and the duck was waaaaaaay too big. So, the following day, and inspired by a particularly gorgeous sunset, I had another go.

Things seemed to be going okay so I added some waves and some more cloud textures.

But then I had a realisation: The waves probably wouldn't break like that out in the deep ocean. And the scale was all wrong if I wanted to have a tiny duck. Plus, I reckoned that a night time scene would look even more lonely. My final realisation was that, with yellow being the complimentary colour of blue, I'd get the greatest contrast if the painting was predominantly blue. So, another attempt ...

I realise that it's probably not as striking an image as I could have painted. But I'm happiest with this version. The photo, sadly, doesn't do it justice as the colours are very different in the original with lots of different and subtle shades of blue. Oh, and here's Duckie in close-up:

It made an interesting change to do a painting so devoid of detail and colour and I enjoyed the process. I've no idea whether anyone but me will like it but, then again, I paint for my own pleasure and satisfaction.

If other people like it, that's a bonus.

If, occasionally, people buy them, that's an amazing double bonus!

More paintings soon!

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