Picking Up Two, Oil on Linen, 18x24 (Sold)
(revised 1/9/12, 1/12/12, 6/14/12)
As a plein air painter, I have to admit I am not a purist. A purist starts and finishes a painting on location. The original field study for this painting was done two and half years ago. This is the third time I've worked on this studio version. The way I see it, is that if I think I can improve the painting, i'm going to try.
The field painting was more of a mid day painting. The sun was over my right shoulder at an angle that obliterated just about all the shadows from the rocks and there was no tug boat. The tug came as I was finishing up, so I snapped a reference photo. On the original studio version, I wanted to get more of a late afternoon feel with long shadows on the rocks. So I put the sun over my left shoulder and reversed all of the shadows and warmed the colors from the previous painting.
This time, I needed to deal with the fact that the barge is at a different angle than the tugboat and back barge. They are at a different angle because they have not been tied together yet. I have attempted to capture the moment that they make contact. I remembered that there was a barge hand at the fore ready to untie the cable as soon as another hand tied the two together. I felt it was important to put this deck hand on the painting so the viewer would understand what is going on. The barge is "picking up two" more barges. So I took a photo of myself posed the way I remembered the deck hand looked and used that as a crude reference to paint from.
And of course, you can never fix one thing without fixing a few dozen other things, like warming up the sky, rocks and water and generally repainting the painting.