Retraction: Chappy Ferry Painting Was Not Complete Last Night, But It Is Now

I kept looking at the photo of this painting, and the water just seemed too dark for the sky. I liked having a good distinction, but I overdid it. Tonight I lifted a little bit of paint from several areas in the water to bring some light from the sky onto it, and give the hint of the sailboat reflection. I think this is a little better, and I am happy with it now. Onto something new soon.

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Chappy Ferry Painting Complete

While my great interest as a kid in Edgartown was in being a cop, my brother’s was in driving the Chappy Ferry. They let him take the wheel on our trips back and forth and back and forth. I still remember the shape of the raised knob on the wheel and the change dispensers on the waists of the attendants. My brother had to have one too. This painting will be his Christmas present. If it isn’t done now, it nearly is. I need to let it sit again. I see a few things I wish I had done differently, or tried ahead of time first, but watercolor seems to be as much about process as finished works. I am happy to give a part of that process and the memories that go with it to my brother.

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Chappy Ferry: Learning from Ted Kautzky

Every painting is an experiment. I don’t really have my way of doing things yet, so I like to try to approach each painting a little differently. Maybe it was the weather, but today I was thinking of Ted Kautzky’s paintings, which my dad had referred me to earlier in the year. I tried to borrow some of his style with the trees and the town in the distance–it’s bolder than in the sailing painting I just finished, with more color variation because I used more paint and let it mix more on the paper, and I swiped in a fair amount as well. It was loose and fun, and something I want to use more. I think I overdid it a little, though, and need to go back to bring out some highlights. I will save that for next time once the paper is fully dry. More to do on the water and other areas around the painting, but the main challenge will be making the ferry stand out. I am not yet sure how I will handle that.

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Sky Over the Chappy Ferry

Last night I looked over my composition and looked through some watercolor books, including a history of British watercolor. I wanted to sort out what to do about the sky. Before doing some research I was thinking of a dramatic stormy sky with sun shining through from the side, but when I looked at other cases next to mine, that no longer seemed appropriate. I opted for a light sky of Prussian Blue and Ultramarine with hints of clouds so as not to distract from the ferry and the town. I will have to redraw the ferry, and I am wondering about a few other areas of this, so for tonight I am leaving it as is.

I did do a few experiments on the side that aren’t worth posting, but they got me going on a few new ideas. More to come on that front as well. For now, here’s a look at the Chappy Ferry painting with the sky in and the base wash for the water.

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Laying Out a Chappy Ferry Painting

The view of Edgartown from Chappaquiddick is postcard worthy. I want to capture the scene, featuring the Chappy Ferry that was so important to me as a kid, without letting the postcard feeling take over. That’s my challenge for this one–to instill a sense of drama, however subtle, in the idyllic. Here’s my framing drawing. Maybe the sky will be important in this one.

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Afternoon Sail in Edgartown: Completed Work

During the summers of 1985 and 1986 I had a job on Martha’s Vineyard. I was Officer Corey, the littlest cop in Edgartown. The Vineyard Gazette even wrote an article about me. Somehow I befriended one of the traffic cops–I think his name Officer Mark, and another–officer Craig–who drove a squad car around. Every day my parents would take me downtown and I would stand on the corner with Mark. I learned the proper hand signals to direct traffic, and the cars followed my instructions. My grandmother, who was a wonderful songwriter in the days of wonderful songwriting, wrote a song about me. “Officer Corey’s on the job in Edgartown…”

It was as a junior junior cop that I fist recall that sinking feeling of being wrong. I recall someone asking me directions to the general store. I pointed them up Main Street, then, as soon as the man was out of sight, realized the store was down the street. I ran inside the t-shirt store and hid with my parents. Another time I got my traffic signals mixed up, and when I realized I dropped my arms and stood in a shadow. Fortunately Officer Mark was there.

This morning I finished my painting. I dabbed in some darks in the trees, ultramarine shadows on the buildings, and developed the water further. I recently got a Princeton Neptune #12, and used it for the first time today. A nice brush. I loved the quill I had already, but wanted a little more precision while keeping the looseness that these brushes engender. I liked it on the sail, where I tried to learn from John Singer Sargent’s “Melon Boats.” I found it helpful too when painting the sailors. To finish off the painting I scraped out the highlights and lines on the boat. This was a fun painting to do, and a good way to remember Edgartown. I have a few more in mind for this series, and a few more stories to go with them.

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Afternoon Sail in Edgartown: Laying in the Sky

I don’t recall spending time on the beach opposite Edgartown when I was a kid. Instead I made my parents ride the Chappy Ferry back and forth all afternoon. Not sure that’s a good idea today. It is $4 per person round trip. Back then the ferry men wore change dispensers on their belts. Then again, it has been 20 years.

When I drew out this composition, I wasn’t thinking much about what to do next, other than setting the orange sails against the blue afternoon sky. David Tripp commented that he saw a Hopperesque watercolor coming from this, which prompted me to look back at some of Hoppers sailing paintings, and gave me some direction. I am going to keep this one simple and straightforward–compositional–with some elegiac tones. To start, I laid in a basic muted sky of diluted Prussian Blue and Ultramarine, and base wash of the same for the water, over which I will lay the waves and reflection of the boat and sails.

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Starting a new painting: Afternoon Sailing in Edgartown

When we were up in Massachusetts in August we had the chance to visit Martha’s Vineyard for a day and walk around Edgartown, where my family used to go in the summers when I was a kid. I haven’t been back in over 20 years, so it was interesting to see the place as an adult with kids of my own, and give a small nostalgia tour for them. Through adult eyes, the whole place seemed three-quarter sized.

We took the Chappy Ferry across to Chappaquiddick and let the kids play on the small beach facing the Edgartown warf. I enjoyed watching the daysailors scooting out as the yachts came in. One of the small sailboats caught my eye, and I planned to paint it. I am just now getting to it. Here is the framing drawing. Thanks for reading.