– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

Randall Cogburn was painting a seascape when a giant cargo ship cruised into the scene. So he painted it in.

Lead Image: Before the cargo ship

Cogburn says it was a natural progression from oceanscape to a cargo ship portrait. “The first thing that crosses my mind, especially when plein air painting, is composition, making a way to lead the viewer’s eye around the painting,” says Cogburn. “Making a transition from one composition to another sometimes happens only if the element sparks my interest, and in the real world of plain air painting, there is usually plenty to feed off of.

After the cargo ship made its appearance
After the cargo ship made its appearance

“Usually, just one element stands out. Sketching small studies before making a go at it gives me the opportunity to cherry-pick from the scene as it flows along and sometimes changes my composition. Some examples could be the change in direction of a sailboat, the reflections and tilt, and background elements that all come into play.”


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