Joseph Byrne

South Carolina, USA, Oys­ter Boat Moor­ing, oil on wood panel, 15 x 30" (38 x 76 cm)

International Artist - - Art Challenge -

My In­spi­ra­tion

I would have to say my in­spi­ra­tion comes from my love of these vast Low­coun­try wet­lands. I have pad­dled through them, fished, caught shrimp and gath­ered oys­ters from them. But most of all it’s the im­por­tance of these salt marshes; they are the nurs­ery for the ocean’s food chain.

I’m cap­tured by the vast­ness and depth of the­ses plains, the me­an­der­ing chan­nels with deep pur­plish-brown pluff mud banks. I can also tell the sea­son by the color of the spartina grass, which goes from a vivid green to pur­ple and also raw si­enna. Then you have the air, which is al­ways heavy and laden with mois­ture and shows at­mo­spheric per­spec­tive. I was com­mis­sioned three other times to re­pro­duce this scene, some of them larger but I in­sisted on the same ra­tio.

My De­sign Strat­egy

Be­ing that the huge marsh can get a bit bor­ing, I de­cided to fo­cus on the for­ward wa­ter chan­nel that di­rects you into the paint­ing; it’s also the main fo­cus of my com­po­si­tion or the cen­ter of in­ter­est. Then the chan­nel takes a right turn. I thought the dis­tant chan­nels would take you fur­ther back into the paint­ing.

The very back wa­ter­way I had to use my artis­tic li­cense. That wa­ter­way went from left to right and to me I felt it would be dis­tract­ing, so I ta­pered it to a sub­tle pointer that brings you vis­ually back into the paint­ing. And, of course, we have the heavy air which I sim­ply faded into the tree line to show dis­tance. I want to in­vite the viewer into my paint­ing.

My Work­ing Process

I al­ways do sketches on site and I take a bunch of de­tail pho­to­graphs that I will use in the com­fort of my stu­dio. I have done plein air paint­ings and only use them for ref­er­ence; you can only do so much in three hours.

I picked one of my photos of this scene that I liked, but it needed work com­po­si­tion wise. I then did about six char­coal sketches, then a fi­nal pen­cil lay­out. When I was sat­is­fied with the com­po­si­tion, I sketched it out on my can­vas.

Then I tone my can­vas with light oil paint tur­pen­tine washes and dif­fer­ent color washes in var­i­ous ar­eas. When dry, I start lay­ing in the paint; at the end of each ses­sion I put news­pa­per on top of the paint­ing and rub the back of the pa­per. This is called tunk­ing, and it re­moves any heavy buildup of paint and it will be dry for the next day’s ses­sion.


Con­tact De­tails

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