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Colourist52
03-21-2010, 06:44 AM
Hi, I have a question about painting the ocean in seascapes. Should the sea be darker in the distance and on the horizon or should it be lighter? I have always thought that it should be darker as the water is usually deeper in the distance, but I have recently seen differing opinions on this. :)

Studio-1-F
03-21-2010, 09:49 AM
Hi Julie! I doubt that there is a rule on this or any "should" involved in it. I suspect it depends on what the sky is doing, since the sea is a reflection of the sky.

(For more see "What Color is the Sea Really?" here (http://painting.about.com/od/landscapes/ss/paint_sea.htm).)

Am I right?

Jan

DAK723
03-21-2010, 01:09 PM
I live a few miles from one of the great lakes (Lake Ontario) and visit there often. The variation in the color of the water is hard to believe. If there are "rules" - then I haven't found them yet!

But, yes, the water is often darker in the distance (as it nears the horizon) as it becomes deeper. This seems to be the case on nice clear days with a blue sky. It can be tricky to paint, as it is the opposite of the usual principles of aerial perspective - where colors become lighter as they recede.

As the article that Jan links to mentions, there are many factors: the color of the sky, the angle of the sun or time of day, the amount of wave action, the depth of the water all play a part. And I have found that, compared to smaller lakes, large bodies of water sometimes have more "local" color. By this I mean that the effect of the sky is often less obvious, especially when the water is greenish in color!

Here are a few photos - all of Lake Ontario:

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur008.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur2003_003.jpg

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur2003_004.jpg

(Above) Notice the darker band right at the horizon. I wonder why that is there!

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur-005.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur-006.JPG

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/21-Mar-2010/82335-dur-007.JPG

Of course, the ocean might be different than a very large lake!
Hope this helps!

Don

Dougwas
03-21-2010, 01:41 PM
Good question and beautiful photos.

Doug

Colorix
03-21-2010, 05:12 PM
Love this question! The sea is a shifting fickle mistress, changing her appearence, sometimes by the minute. She can't be pinned down under rules.

Though, *often*, the horizon looks darker, for above mentioned reasons. Then, if sky is lighter, the horizon will look darker by comparison, especially in choppy waters.

Don, that was a mysterious dark band you got in one photo. It may be an optical illusion, sort of a mirage, and it might actually be the distant shore (lake, right?), I've read about a phenomenon in certain conditions, where an image is bounced by layers in the atmosphere, producing such an illusion of islands, while the islands are beyond the curvature of the earth and ought not to be visible.

The simplest rule of all: trust your eyes, and paint what you see.

Charlie

Lynndidj
03-21-2010, 06:17 PM
Don - the great lakes are so beautiful!!! This reminds me of Lake Michigan, which we see often. The dark band, I have found, is often where the winds are blowing harder across the water. Closer to shore there will be stillness and the water appears clearer, and where the winds blow, the water appears darker. This happens very often where we vacation in the summer. As I looked through all of your photos, they ALL spoke to me of our great lakes. Charlie - even though these are lakes, you cannot see the other side - they are too large. Look in an atlas and find the lakes on the northern border of the United States and Canada - and they are well worth a visit sometime if you get to the U.S.!!! Where we vacation, there are several islands off of the coast of Michigan. Some days we can see them clearly and other days they are completely obscured by the mist over the water - and also there is a little tidal action even in the great lakes, and when the tide is lower, we can see more of them. Amazing!!

Lynn

Deborah Secor
03-21-2010, 06:20 PM
I've seen a lot of this discussion taking place over in the Marine Art (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?s=&daysprune=-1&f=135)forum, too! You might find some more interesting opinions if you do a search over there.

Deborah

inmystudio
03-21-2010, 06:21 PM
I have just started my first attempt at painting the ocean so I was interested to read the replies and I am happy to note that no rule applies :)

The dark band in the photo above is probably the wind roughing up the surface it something we note when sailing!

DAK723
03-21-2010, 06:57 PM
The simplest rule of all: trust your eyes, and paint what you see.

Charlie
Always the best "rule" - no matter the subject, but very much the case when it comes to water!

I, too, will go with the "wind" hypothesis, in regards to the mysterious line at the horizon! Next time I see a similar phenomenon, I will have to kayak out and investigate!

Don

Winny Kerr
03-21-2010, 07:45 PM
I have a great book on how to paint the ocean waves and water done by E. John Robinson who explains in detail how and where to put your lights and darks.

Studio-1-F
03-21-2010, 09:20 PM
I have a great book on how to paint the ocean waves and water done by E. John Robinson who explains in detail how and where to put your lights and darks.
Is this the book you're talking about? -----> Painting All Aspects of Water: For All Mediums by E. John Robinson (2004) (http://books.google.com/books?id=JaoOAAAACAAJ&dq=Painting+All+Aspects+of+Water:+For+All+Mediums+by+E.+John+Robinson&cd=1)

Jan

robertsloan2
03-22-2010, 02:26 AM
That sounds like a great book. If I'm making up a scene with a coastline or water on the horizon, I go by darkest at the horizon because that's more common though. Unless I'm remembering something specific or have a reference, it's a bit more common and does work plausibly in made-up scenes.

Colorix
03-22-2010, 04:14 AM
Charlie - even though these are lakes, you cannot see the other side - they are too large. Look in an atlas and find the lakes on the northern border of the United States and Canada - and they are well worth a visit sometime if you get to the U.S.!!!

Lynn, I've been by Lake Ontario, for a couple of weeks, on both shores, I know it is huge. But that was kind of the whole point -- those lakes being very big. If you have two layers of air, an 'image' of an island or an unvisible distant shore can bounce multiple times between the layers and create an illusion of being where it shouldn't be. One of the quirks of nature. Not saying this is what happens in that above photo, but am mentioning the phenomenon as one conceivable option.

Charlie

Lynndidj
03-22-2010, 01:47 PM
Hey Charlie - so glad you have experienced the great lakes - I've been to Lake Como and loved that so much, but it is a different experience as one can see the shore across the lake. We have been vacationing for 21 years to the same beach on Lake Michigan and I have never seen the kind of thing you are describing. I've seen every cloud formation there is and often can see the two layers of air as the clouds are different in each layer ... which is very cool in and of itself ... this could be a question for our top weatherman in the States, Mr. Tom Skilling. He has a column in the Chicago Tribune called "Ask Tom Why" and I think this is something unusual enough not to have been discussed previously. I'd love to know the science behind this kind of phenomenon! If I get an answer, I'll be sure to forward it!!

Lynn

Ruthie57
03-22-2010, 03:37 PM
This is so interesting! The sea here in Norfolk is often grey echoing the sky. But sometimes it's blue and then it is always darker near the horizon. Of course you get lighter streaks and sometimes areas of turquoise, almost like the Med.
I too have spent some time by the great lakes, many years ago, an unforgettable holiday finishing up at Niagara. The falls were great though it was dull when we went on the Maid of the Mist so no rainbows. Didn't go a lot on the Motel there though!!

Lynndidj
03-22-2010, 07:28 PM
Ruthie - I have never been to Niagara Falls - of course I've seen film and photos and so on. Too bad you didn't get the rainbows though!! One of these days I'd love to see it in person. Back in January of 1979 I stuck my hand in the sea at Brighton on the coast of England - it was COLD!!! Don't know where Norfolk is though. As you can see by Don's wonderful photos, sometimes the lakes here look a bit like the med with that wonderful turquoise green-blue - depends on the day and the sun and the time of year. Like Charlie says - paint what you see!! Look at Monet and how he would paint the same thing and it would be different on different days - including the sea - and at different times of the same day!

Lynn

Winny Kerr
03-22-2010, 09:27 PM
What I have is "Painting the Sea in oils using special effects". by E. John Robinson. He is very good about how to paint water but especially his sea-scapes I believe. Winny

Colourist52
03-24-2010, 09:03 AM
Wow! Thank you all so much, you've given me so much to think about. When I thought I'd start painting seascapes I didn't realize how hard they would be and what a big learning curve it would be.

I've only done a couple of seascapes so far but I've loved doing them so I think I'll concentrate on them for a while. The ironic thing is I can't even swim (yes, and I live in Australia where everyone can swim can't they?) but I love sitting and looking at the ocean and the sky.