Friday, July 22, 2011

Painting Exercise: Old Lighthouse by the Sea

Dr Abe V Rotor
Old Lighthouse, mural detail by AVR

You are at the end of the land and the beginning of a vast ocean. You stand on elevated coral reef and rocks safe from the angry waves. Above your head is an old lighthouse, strong and tough, but worn by time and the elements. It does not carry anymore the giant torch that guided seafarers at night to keep them at safe distance from the dangerous reefs, sandbars and shoals.

Have you, by chance, climbed the spiral stairs leading to the top of the lighthouse of Cape Bojeabor in Pasuquin, Ilocos Norte? Or the old lighthouse in Calatagan, Batangas? If not, recall a movie you saw that featured a lighthouse.

There is a movie, "Light at the End of the World," starring Kirk Douglas who played a hero's role defending the land from pirates. There's another movie about a beautiful lady appearing to a young man (Joseph Cotton) who falls in love with her. The lighthouse is a rendezvous of the two lovers every afternoon. At the end of the story the lady was but the unsettled spirit of a young woman.

Draw the waves breaking on the rock at the foot of the lighthouse. Give life to the sky. Put some moving clouds, some sunset colors. This is a sign of bad weather. There are sailboats leaning on the wind, their sails full. Make their sails colorful in order to break the gloom. On the far left is the other side of the bay. It is a settled place where you find homes and farms. The mountain on the background at the left gives a sense of balance, otherwise the side of the lighthouse is quite heavy.

You may add these features - other boats lay in anchor, their sails lowered, while others have been carried to higher ground. The shore is deserted now, except a few fishermen securing their paraphernalia in their anchored boats. Put life into your painting by including some birds swooping on the water for food, promenaders at the foot of the lighthouse.

Play a recording of the music of Antonin Dvorak and Jean Sibelius. Another Scandinavian composer, Grieg, will likewise take you to this scene. You may try Maller for the angry sea and sky. Why don't you include the music of our own Ryan Cayabyab and Lucio San Pedro for a morning scene, and Nicanor Abelardo and Francisco Santiago for a sunset by the lighthouse?

Start by sketching a silhouette of the sea, rocks, lighthouse and sky. Now it's entirely your own, the light at the edge of the world is in your hands.

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