Motion of the Ocean, Part 1

I meant to get this posted over the weekend but anyway that didn’t happen. This week (really last week) I wanted to try to tackle, or at least begin to chip away at one of the challenges of learning to draw waves: that they move. My thinking is that I need to familiarize myself with all the different phases of a waves motion. To do this I found a video on Youtube of waves crashing against rocks and took 17 screen shots, each a second or so apart, with the plan of doing 17 paintings using each as a reference. The footage I used can be seen around the 12 minute mark but I don’t remember exactly when I took the screenshots from. Unfortunately I only had time to finish 6 paintings last week, so my plan is to break this exercise into two or three posts. But don’t worry, to try to make it more interesting, each post will focus on a different aspect of the painting, such as the color or highlighting the painting process.

In this post I’m going to try to talk about what is going on with the wave in each painting to try to get an idea of how its movement works. But I’m not going to lie, in some of the screenshots its a bit hard to tell exactly whats happening, being that the source material is from Youtube, there are some compression artifacts and blurriness from motion, and also just all the mist being spilled into the air from the wave crashing. But I’m going to do my best.

First a brief explanation of the process. Once again, working in MyPaint, I began with a canvas filled with a color sampled from the sky. I then painted the rocks on a new layer. The waves are painted on new layers above the rocks, with each painting being its own layer. This way I didn’t have to redraw the rocks each time, and the would remain consistent. I also sampled about a dozen colors from one of the screen shots and put them on the side of my canvas. As I worked I would sample colors them almost like a regular painting palette, and most of the color mixing happened on the canvas. Occasionally I would have to choose my own colors. I’ll go more into depth about the colors in the next post. Anyway lets get into the actual paintings.

At this moment we see wave moving forward, it appears to be about to crash over. In the foreground on the left, we see that a smaller wave seems to have just crashed over. It will be revealed in the next painting that there is a formation of rocks in the foreground that the water is crashing against. The foreground wave seems to be sort of rolling over the rock, and crashing against it on the far right. The water in between the middle ground wave and foreground wave is kind of sloshing about. For shorthand I’m going to start referring to the wave in the middle ground as wave M, the wave in the background as wave B, and any waves in the foreground as wave F. Wave B seems to be rolling over too.

In this moment it seems that wave M has crashed over, and as it continues to barrel forward, is spraying up water. Meanwhile wave F has washed over the rocks, and a few smaller waves on the left continue to ripple forward. We can see all the water draining off of the foreground rocks. There is a lot of foam built up on the bottom right corner, From when the wave hit the rocks. The middle ground continues to kind of slosh around. Wave B appears to make contact with the background rocks and sprays up.

Wave M now seems to be falling over, being pushed down by gravity. Still as it moves forward, it sprays up water, kind of like its tripping over itself. Wave F has kind of fizzled at this point, still sending smaller and smaller ripples over each other. Wave B is really hitting against the rocks now and spraying water everywhere. On its left side, it seems like another wave is starting to build up. The middle ground seems to be becoming more active, and on the left side, seems to begin to swell up.

What appears to be happening here, basically, is the middle ground is starting to swell up, as wave M continues crashing. So I think the middle ground is sort of being drawn back out, lifting up, and sort of giving wave M a second life. Wave B has crashed over the rocks and seems to be continuing to move forward.

Now as the middle ground continues to swell up, wave M falls down on itself more, tripping over itself and spraying up even more water. Wave B continues to push over the rocks, it seems like its coming up to meet with wave M almost.

At this point we can really see the middle ground swelling up even more. Wave M seems to be fizzling out, but it will be reborn once the middle ground finishes swelling up and eventually crashes over again. Its interesting that wave M doesn’t crash along the length of the wave evenly, or at exactly the same time. You can get a good sense of how much the water has swelled up by the fact that the background rocks are now nearly covered by the waves, compared to how much of them was visible in the first painting.

Well that’s all for today. I hope it was interesting. I’m still trying to understand whats happening myself of course, and writing this all out, is as much a way for me to try to understand it myself as anything else. Writing these posts is kind of like taking notes on my own learning process, forcing me to solidify the ideas in my own head rather than just mindlessly copy from references. See you all next week.

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