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  • Writer's pictureDale Jackson

Painting the Ocean - Beginnings

Updated: Nov 17, 2020

For the longest time, a blank canvas or a blank piece of art paper would intimidate me. However, I've learned to embrace it and not be worried about what I would paint or draw, but rather flip that thought and instead, imagine or rather visualize the vast possibilities of what I could paint or draw. For this piece, the ocean, being influenced so much by living near the ocean for a good chunk of my life, my mind wasn't blank for what I could do, but rather what I'd like to express! For me, I spent a great amount of time whenever I was at the beach just scanning the sky, the waves and the intricate formations that wave after wave made. I would bring my camera and take hundreds of photographs. Back before the pre-digital days of photography this wasn't always possible or economical because film costs a good bit of money to use and process, and when you're out of a roll of film, you're really out.

With the advent of digital photography and cloud-based photography storage, there became practically limitless options! So for me, the only hinderance was really, what would I selectively like to focus on out of all the hundreds or even thousands of reference photos I've taken over many years.

I decided to settle on a typical vantage point of painting the ocean as I would stand just coming up to the shoreline and standing in the shallow surf, looking up at a big beautiful blue sky with large sculpted cumulus clouds drifting serenely overhead. I wanted the view to almost curl from left to right as if I was looking through a wide angle lens.

I had a large canvas panel that was 48 inches wide by 36 inches tall. This would be the centerpiece in our bedroom, I thought. I would also like there to be other, smaller, ocean paintings that I would produce that would be to the left and right of this large one, so that the whole wall was full of ocean views.

At first, I was going to be much more specific with my location being at Huntington Beach in California because we spent so much time there while we lived near there for 15 years, but as I got to talking with my wife about it, we both agreed that it should rather be a general scene of the beauty and majesty of God's creation of the ocean instead of focusing on one specific location. So that's what I've done. In the next few blog posts, I will share my sketches of Huntington Beach which was going to be the location but those will give way to more general ocean ambience as I develop the painting.

The drawing above represents a concept I was working on when I originally intended this painting to be of Huntington Beach, CA where my family would go each month to create sand sculptures for two years. I'm concentrating on the wave forms and the intricate lattice of the sea foam. I'll use these concepts in the final oil painting.

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