"The Oar Locks" • oil painting • by John Morfis

Oar Locks Painting

"The Oar Locks" • oil painting • by John MorfisI’ve been having much success with my fishing lure paintings.  As a result I decided to branch out a bit but stay within the boating and fishing genre.

I can remember these little items from my childhood.  I was always rowing around the creek near my parent’s house in a little blue rowboat.  I could spend a whole afternoon rowing and fishing.  It wasn’t uncommon to cover a few miles in a single day.  And row boats are super slow.  It takes forever to cover any kind of mileage in them.  The rowboat was equipped with a pair of galvanized oar locks just like these.

I didn’t know any better, when I was a kid, but there’s supposed to be a strap across the top to prevent the oars from popping out while you rowed.  Yep, my oars would pop out every so often.  It’s also important to keep the oar locks tied to the boat.  Otherwise, if they pop out of their holding they will fall overboard and be lost to the bottom of the sea!

I started this painting with a pretty standard grisaille.  I used raw umber and mixed it down to lighter values using white.  I countered the cooling effects of the titanium white oil paint with a small amount of yellow ochre.

oar locks painting grisaille

After the grisaille was complete I began my overpainting in full color.  I soon realized that my typical gray background was conflicting slightly with the painted oar locks.  Everything was coming out far too neutral in color.

My solution to this was to make the oarlocks slightly bluer and to make the background slightly warmer.  I ended up glazing some low-saturation oranges and yellow-oranges across the background gray.  My glaze consisted of various earth tones (raw sienna, burnt sienna, etc.) mixed down with gray paint and linseed oil.

I actually overdid the glazing a bit and had to remove some of it with a rag.  No big deal, I just wiped things down until I liked the results.  This is one of the perks of working in layers on top of dried layers of paint.

So this painting took a less straight forward journey than most of my paintings.  This indirect way of painting brought back memories of the past.  I used to rely on glazing to accomplish all of my paintings.  Now, I typically mix up the right color and paint it on directly.

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