I love that in this description written by my Dad, he noted that the “Dark SIde” is not a Star Wars reference but rather a nod to the shadows in this piece, here is what he wrote about his experience coming up with this watercolor artwork inspired from a 2007 beach walk at Sanibel Island, Florida.
During a 2007 visit to his timeshare on Sanibel Island, near Fort Myers, Florida, Barry collected a series of beach images in photos. This painting was the product of that collection.
It is a transparent watercolor painted on 14″ by 20″ Arches cold pressed 140# paper.
Many a sunset and numerous walks on the beach were combined with a version of a jumble of drift wood Barry saw. Was the wood stranded there after pounding by waves? Maybe not, since there are some rather small, fragile branches that would have been broken off in the process. Was it a pile made by human hands? If so, why? For a beach bonfire? Then why aren’t the smaller brances burned away?
Several photos of the drift wood were used for details, but the main one was a silhouette which made most of the wood too dark to see, except for the shape. Instead, Barry allowed some of the back lighting to lighten the edges of the pieces of wood just a bit.
The dramatic lighting is a bit moody, yet so nearly true to what was observed and so interesting as abstract shapes, that Barry used it. This was done even though most artists don’t use such strong silhouettes. The shapes and lines “called” to Barry saying, “Paint us. We are your muse, your inspiration.”
Therefore, the title does not refer to the moral “dark side” as in a Star Wars movie, so much as literally to the dark side of objects that so rarely are painted.
Although it is somewhat an exaggeration, this scene came from an experience I had walking along Oak Creek, at Arroyo Robles Resort, in Sedona Arizona. This is one of my all time favorite places and I try to return there every year that I can. I know exactly what Zane Grey meant when he titled the book he wrote near here, “Call of the Canyon”. It calls me too, to come “home”.
At this particular time, the late afternoon light barely made it diagonally down between the two walls of the canyon and spilled across a small section of Oak Creek as I watched. It lasted just two or three minutes and was at it’s most intense for only about one minute.
I did take several reference photos, but none did this scene justice. Only by working with the images in my mind could I even come close to the amazement of the scene. What a gift to see it and to try to share!
The painting is a transparent watercolor, done on Arches 140# cold pressed 100% cotton rag paper, and sized about 13″ by 16″.
Although assembled from scenes at two places on Oak Creek near Sedona Arizona, this painting is still a true representation of many places along this wonderful river. Specifically, the lighting was experienced late one afternoon as the sun reached the top edges of the canyon in which Oak Creek runs. Things that were not in the direct sun light were dark, creating an almost moody feeling. Yet, those things still lit by the sun were aglow with a beautiful golden light so typical of late Sedona days.
The composition design process was interesting for me in that I tried to emphasize the drop in the water level as the creek backed up behind the rocks. To reinforce that feeling, I exaggerated the rock pile at the far bank, and I designed the far bank and trees on it to reflect the same curved drop in height.
While the tree trunks and rocks are carefully rendered, the grass, flowers, and water are much more expressive. In the water, this captures the dancing and flowing feeling the creek gives a viewer. I love this kind of scene so much, in part for the strong feelings I had when there, watching the light change minute by minute. I am sure I will paint other versions of this scene in the future.
This is a transparent watercolor painting done on 100% cotton rag Strathmore Gemini 300# cold pressed paper. It is 13″ by 19″.