A typical finished Grimshaw dockside scene combines mysterious and atmospheric distances with the delicate tracery of rigging and other fine details.
What procedure did he follow to work out the perspective?
Fortunately there are a few unfinished Grimshaws which show his method. This one has a thin layer of brownish oil color scrubbed over the entire surface to establish the overall tonality and mood, but he has not yet moved on to the finished opaque rendering.
Here’s a detail of the same canvas. Grimshaw’s crisp preliminary line drawing shows right through the thin paint. I haven’t seen the original, but most likely the drawing was accomplished in India ink.
Grimshaw, like Bouguereau, Gerome, and many others in his day, preferred to have the foundational perspective work carefully completed in ink on the canvas before going on to the final painting. The drawing would eventually disappear under later opaque layers.
Gerome also used a perspective ink drawing on the canvas before he dove into his renderings of complex tilework.
Other painters like Sorolla, Sargent, Duveneck, and Zorn (and, more recently, Richard Estes and Frank McCarthy) took a more improvisatory approach, and “found it in the paint,” drawing loosely at first with the brush. Both methods are completely valid.
More about Atkinson Grimshaw at ARC.org
Previous posts on the color of moonlight, Link; on perspective grids, Link; and on a Dinotopia preliminary line drawing, Link.
Tomorrow: Your Khalian Sketches (Deadline noon today)