“Drydock at Night” – 15″ x 22″
The process can take a while!
The concept of this painting has been on my mind for two years, beginning shortly after a painting trip to Gloucester and Cape Ann, Massachusetts in 2014. This area is a favorite place of mine – both to paint and to just enjoy. I have a number of favorite painting locations. One of them is Gloucester Marine Railways which is way out in Gloucester Harbor at the tip of Rocky Neck. It is a heavy duty ship-repair facility. There is always a lot of serious work being done and many different kinds of boats being worked.
The subject of this painting is the Phyllis A – the oldest surviving fishing vessel in Gloucester. It is owned by the Phyllis A Marine Association, which has preserved the boat as part of the rich commercial fishing history of Gloucester and Cape Ann. The boat is very old and, as part of it renovation and restoration, is in drydock quite often – I’ve encountered it there several times on separate visits.
It was evening when I visited in August 2014. The setting sun infused everything in an orange glow which inspired a painting with an analogous, warm color scheme. It was an enjoyable session and resulted in the painting at right as well as a pencil sketch at left. Darkness was falling as I was finishing up. It was too dark to continue painting or to begin a new “nocturne”, but the seed was planted!
From time to time since then, my thoughts have returned to the drydock scene. Night scenes are trickier than most – the values be predominantly at the dark end of the scale and the lights must be carefully placed and balanced. So, I procrastinated….
Several month ago, and after nearly two years worth of thinking about it, I sketched out a shape composition that seemed workable and dove in with paint. When doing deep dark passages in watercolor, I like to work very wet to keep the saturated pigment as transparent and flowing as possible. This small sketch would turn out to be a trial run for the larger work both in terms of value composition and in the technical approach.