Hidden Meaning in a Boat Painting

plein air painting boat

Why is it that we look and look for that thing which illudes us? I don’t even remember what it was I thought I was looking for!

This week I found myself. Standing next to a boat named “Patience,” I painted this little oil painting of the work boat beside it. In the brilliant morning sun, I found the patience to quietly paint a story.

plein air painting boat
High Tide, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14″ Prints available

The Gift of a Mentor

Initially I thought the painting might be a gift for my painting mentor, Bob Mayo. I was standing on his dock. He loved the little painting, yet refused to allow me to give it to him. “You sell this painting!” he instructed me.

Instead we gleefully discussed the details of the painting. To add the piling in the foreground? Which direction would it lean? How tall might it be? The boat needs an anchor to stop the eye from wandering off the edge. And so do I. His eyes twinkled. I felt his appreciation.

This is the benefit of having a painting mentor. When we are too blind to see our creative gifts, others call it out and set us straight. Without Bob, I’d have stopped painting long ago. And without a lot of other people too!

plein air painting boat
detail lights and shadows on the water with boat reflections

If you’ve followed my recent paintings, you know I have been focused on painting reflections in water. With this painting, I created the story structure first ~ cottage and boat ~ then focused on painting the reflections.

I began by making several thumbnail sketches to choose my composition. Did I wish to have the cottage dominant? Or the boat? How would I be able to fit so much subject matter on such a small canvas?

thumbnail sketches
thumbnail sketches, 1. cottage boat balance, 2. Boat emphasis, 3. Shadow emphasis, 4. Light emphasis

Indeed. These are the questions of my life! How DO I balance work and home? And how do I fit it all in to a life that is so full already?

plein air painting river
detail cottage with bird house, steps, sun light and shadows

The cottage reminds me of my own cottage in the woods by the pond. Looking at it now, I see it as symbolic of myself as well. Half light, half shadow … Even the vantage point of looking back at the cottage and myself seems uncanny now.

plein air paninting tree
detail cypress tree

Lost & Found

I had to move this cypress tree to place it at the correct spot in the painting to balance the composition. I didn’t think about it as a symbol. Yet now I wonder. I can think of many a painting I have painted with cypress trees. My husband Jim always referred to them as “the guardians.” Now there is just one, at the pivot point! The Creator is a remarkable spirit. It moves us to do the things that show us who we are!

I feel overjoyed to see this painting! The pleasure of painting it feels reassuring and complete. Last night I dreamed of a painting series ~ painted in “my own backyard.”

Today a friend messaged me to paint tomorrow at his home on the other side of the Piankatank River. Stay tuned!

Hidden Meaning in a Boat Painting

Do you remember my saying I wished my retreat in Tuscany would retrain the workaholic? While I was painting this, Bob walked out on his dock to say hello. “Oh! You’re painting the little work boat!”

Funny, I thought it was a fishing boat!

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Through the quirky way she interprets dreams, art, and day-to-day stuff ~ Dorothy’s dream of painting the lavender fields of Provence became real. Her book about painting in France, Discovering Joy’s Garden, transformed into this inspirational website.

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