Friday, July 18, 2014

Trost Richards seascape method

William Trost Richards "British Coastal View (Coast of Cornwall)" circa 1880
Oil on paper mounted on artist's board, 8-3/4 x 16 inches (22.2 x 40.6 cm)
Here's an oil study by William Trost Richards of the coast of Cornwall. If we had been able to see this painting half-finished, I believe that the areas of the water and the the headlands would have been stated as large, flat masses of relatively thin paint, and they would have been detailed later.

You can see the broader statement clearest in the shadowed bluff at the far left, where the brushstrokes from his large bristle brush carry down along the whole form. The darker subdivisions were added later with a smaller brush. At the far left are the marks of the same brush pounding downward to soften the bottom edge of the bluff and to pull the green of the grass upward. 

The preliminary statement of masses probably included the average color of the water, without waves or foam, and the light and dark masses of the headlands on the right of the scene. With that paint sitting wet but not too thick, he painted the smaller lines in the rock following the natural fracture lines. The waves also came in later. You'll notice that the wavelet lines never really intersect the vertical line of the illuminated bluff.

This method of painting the poster statement and then subdividing is in contrast to that of Frederic Church. Church finalized the brushwork from the background to the foreground. The sky would have been finished and the illuminated breakers in the middle distance would also have been finished before the jagged line of the rocks was carried across it.

Previous post shows a similar technique on a Trost Richards watercolor


Unknown said...

Hi James
Thanks for another informative post. Not wanting to detract at all from the purpose of the post in any way, but I am pretty certain that the picture is of a subject at the other end of the country- namely the Castle of Yesnaby, situated on the west coast of mainland Orkney, near the neolithic village of Skara Brae.
I was there last week, climbing the stack's big brother, the Old Man of Hoy.
I wondered if you or your readers were familiar with Stanley Cursiter, an artist who painted this coast many times, and perhaps never received the recognition he deserved.

sanchit said...

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Edward Morris said...

I find posts like this very informative. I always look forward to seeing what you were working on what you have in mind. Please do more like this one.

Robert J. Simone said...

James, I think you are right about Richards' working method. It occurs to me that this is pretty much the same working method John F. Carlson teaches in his famous book, "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting". Mass in the big shapes with a medium dark then add the dark accents, midtones, lights and highlights. Given their lives overlapped and that they worked in the same region of the country, I wonder if Carlson gleaned the method, to some extent, from Trost Richards.

schema said...

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Novice Naturalist said...

Thank you! I really enjoy your show and explain posts.

nean12350 said...

Thank you for this very informative discussion about two of my favorite landscape painters, William Trost Richards and Frederick Church. I find your observations fascinating. This particular painting I wanted to use in my power point as an illustration of a "fresh" study in the fashion of hte current plein air style of painting, although many would say there is no accepted "style". At any rate, as I was scrolling on the internet to find an image for British Coastal view I stumbled on your website and how lucky I am to read your blog, very good points and I will note them in my discussion and credit your blog. I have not seen the real painting and wonder have you seen it for real? I am curious, however, how you can determine in the case of Church exactly how he proceeded with his working method. Thank you again, Jeanean