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Distant Island

Origin United States
Period 1920-1949
Materials Oil on artist Board.
Dimensions
W. 41 in; H. 36 in;
W. 104.14 cm; H. 91.44 cm;
Condition Excellent. No touch up.
Creation Date Circa Late 1920's.
Description Frederick Waugh was a prolific seascape artist who generated 2,500 paintings of the sea and shore. Although it was never published, he penned a ten chapter book on marine painting. Some excerpts were later published in a book about Waugh written by George Havens. They allow us to better understand Waugh’s paintings through his own words. He wrote, “I find that my most striking pictures of the sea are those strong in contrasts, the shadows as dark as I can get them and everything in between of the proper value all the way up.”

Waugh believed in “observations, concentration, and then application” of paint. He stated, “No doubt the sea is a difficult subject. To paint it convincingly means long, careful observation of its many phases.” No doubt he put in the required hours to familiarize himself with his subject, which changed with the tide, wind and weather.

He painted as quickly as possible and felt it was crucial to establish the sky tone first. Capable of painting realistically, Waugh believed in simplifying as much as possible. When sizing up a scene, he looked for big shapes first, since he believed “art doesn’t begin and end in detail.” He embraced the mystery that resulted from areas that were left unfinished.

While working, Waugh continually backed up and looked at his canvases from a distance. We can see the impact of his approach in this painting, the lower left side of the canvas includes bold color choices that reveal themselves when viewed close up but blend together when viewed from a distance. The rocks in the foreground feature highlights and shadows created with brushstrokes in cobalt blue, green, yellow, pink, and orange. The bright colors contrast with the muted green-blue sea and periwinkle sky. The foam on the ocean waves include impressionistic highlights that come to life thanks to gentle pink and orange tones that mimic the sun’s warmth. An unusual feature is the distant island, which is probably off the coast of Maine. In this painting Waugh demonstrates his mature and accomplished talents.
Styles / Movements Impressionism, Realism
Incollect Reference Number 127496
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