Sunday, March 20, 2011

Like a Prayer: south Florida Sunrise

This work was a commission, which means that I worked closely with the client to meet her needs. Fortunately both she and I agreed on just about everything from the first moment – “I want the picture to be just after the sun rises, the way everything glows.” I immediately thought of the second-generation Hudson River School “Luminist” artist, John Frederick Kensett, particularly his painting of Lake George from the 1860’s. Of course, I have to add all the super brilliant color and detail possible, but the client chose me because she likes the way I work in an almost hyper-real style. She also wanted the full moon visible, and at least one bird. “Sunrise is the most spiritual time on the beach,” she said. “I often go for walks on the beach at sunrise.” I definitely identified with her feelings about the beach because I have felt as though I was in a “living prayer” when walking on the beach, and I said so. The client immediately said, “That’s it, that’s the title of the painting!”

Photographing the Sunrise

I’m not an early riser, but one morning back in February I got up before sunrise and trundled to the beach, camera in hand. It was the first morning warm enough to sit on the beach in shirtsleeves and shorts, and I sat in the sand waiting for the golden orb to begin its assent. First the sky glowed a fire opal blue. Then an electric sliver appeared, and I started snapping one photograph after another as the sun slowly rose into the sky. There were so many layers of clouds in the sky that glowed in front of and behind one another, and the bowl of the sky was lit in a curved value scale of cascading colors. I was amazed at how lucky I was to choose that one morning to take photographs, and I decided then and there to make the early morning excursions if not a habit, at least a bi-monthly exercise.

The final work is based on 3 photos, the first taken that morning. The second photo was from my morgue of photos, sub category, birds. * The third was a photo of the moon that was a bit blurry, so I made up the mottled surface, and worked transparent luminous clouds across it.

* Called a morgue because it is a file of dead photos of everything and anything, alphabetized for an artist’s use. The difference between my file and most other artists’ morgues is that I take all the photographs for my file.


Marian L Shatto said...

As eastern waters turn
their islands to the sun
the shoreland forest embers

-first verse of "Morning" by Carolyn McDade (c) 1998

You have shoreland sand instead of forest (she was writing about Newfoundland and PEI), but I couldn't help thinking of this song when I saw your painting. It's gorgeous, John!

matt hicks said...

wow! the colors are so perfect in this piece!!

Dr. John Bittinger Klomp said...

Thank you both for your comments. Sometimes I feel as though I'm seeing these things all by myself.

Betsy Grant said...

I love these pastels so much I had to come back and let you know. Your love shines through here!