Moored on the Seine, Paris

If I had a boat…

Before I get onto anything boat related, I first feel beholden to begin where I left off last week, with my trials and travails of painting a scene outside Notre-Dame. To aid comparison I’ve put below the my two efforts, the more recent and looser version first, followed by my first attempt.

Despite my best attempts to tackle this in a more free and spontaneous fashion – I became thwarted by my own limitations! I like some of the individual elements of this looser painting, but I think it fails overall. What makes the first one work – for me at least – was the distinct quality of the light, of the dark sky against a sunlit building, none of which I was able to recreate a second time around.

So much of what I was trying to achieve with this painting depended on judging exactly the dampness of the paper and, all too often I got it wrong. This led to colours bleeding together, which I’d then try to lift out, and then go back in again a little later. Elements became increasingly smudged and overworked. Conversely, I’d leave other areas too long, so instead of a soft edge, I ended up with a hard lined edge.

I think it didn’t help that I was trying to rush this as I didn’t have much time in which to paint. I found myself jumping about all over the place moving from one element to another, all the time trying to keep on top of the correct state of paint and paper. It really did end up like spinning plates but gradually they all began to crash around me! I wanted to stop about halfway through as I had lost my faith in the painting and my abilities to redeem it.

A looser Notre-Dame

Le Notre-Dame, Paris
Le Notre-Dame, Paris
I still like this as a view and as a potential subject, but I think I’ll be leaving this well alone for while at least.

Fortunately, I was able to put this / these disappointments behind me and move onto another painting that I’d already done an initial sketch of and had already decided it merited a little more time and effort. I did the painting below in a rather hasty fashion (I did it partly as an antidote to the first Notre-Dame painting). I can’t tell you how hard I had to fight with this as I painted it yet, at the end, I thought it read quite well. (Again) I didn’t like the figures, or the fact that the masts didn’t fit on the paper, or that the perspective on the boat looked a bit squonky (my spell check assures me this isn’t a word, but I’m sure you all know what I mean!) – but I thought it had an interesting composition and a nice feel.

Moored on the Seine Sketch
So, here’s my slightly more considered effort. At least on this one I managed to get the full height of the masts in!

Overall I think this is a much more accomplished painting. I do prefer some elements of the first painting, such as the sense of and the warmth of light falling across the quayside, the trees on the left hand river bank and the looseness with which the bollard is painted but the second version is, to my eye, better. The perspective works better, the sense of depth and distance, the sky, the figures, the cable in the foreground leading into the picture, the masts and the rigging are all a step up on the first sketch.

Moored on the Seine
So after beginning this week’s endeavours on a slightly frustrated and despondent note, I was really pleased to be able to finish it in a more upbeat frame of mind!

Oh, getting back to the title of this post, if I did have a boat, I’ve very much like it to be like this one. And, if it’s not too much to ask, I’d also like for it to be moored here, on the Seine in Paris, just down from Le Pont Alexandre III bridge (which is just visible in the background!)


Thoughts on If I had a boat…

100 thoughts on “If I had a boat…”

  1. Incredible!!! Shame you are calling it a looser… Nothing is perfect. Your hands can create beauty . Its so wonderful! Notre Dame looks beautiful. I can almost feel the city through your painting.

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  3. I rather like the squonkiness of the first boat. You don’t mind that the masts don’t fit… as in life, not everything always fits neatly in the center. Your work is beautiful, by the way.

    1. Hi Meg and thanks so much for your kind comments! I do like your analogy with life’s squonkiness – I’ll certainly be using that again! Really appreciate you taking the the time to comment.

    1. Thanks Anna for your kind words – so pleased you liked the boat painting and that you found the post interesting – all much appreciated!

    1. Hi Vicky and thanks so much for you kind comment – it’s much appreciated. Good luck with your blog and endeavours too – it’s looking great!

    1. Haha – what a wonderful compliment and yes, if you’re able to save up for some travels I can definitely recommend them – Paris especially, something beautiful at every turn!

  4. I must applaud you on such a spectacular post!! There is absolutely NOTHING EVER to either be or much less FEEL in any way sad or negative from such amazingly spectacular pictures which I’ve had the privilege of seeing, as you share with the rest of us as well…!

    For starters, don’t forget that this is the beauty of Writing, and that is the gift called ‘Expressions’! from within us which no one or nothing can take away, and just as a very dear friend shared with me years back, and I’ll take to my grave— despite how it’s bit of sarcasm may have had such a bit of truth to it, as it does in so many occasions– I’ll share it with the rest of you…. ‘Our Opinions are like our Butt holes– everyone has one, that doesn’t require us all to have to love ‘en all; but they’re simply our necessity!’

    So in keeping that as a grain of salt know that our Writings are like the Oceans that surround the World upon us! And the more we read, the more our knowledge expands our brain cells like Galaxy in which our Pilots and Astronauts explore so deeply….!

    Now moving on to those amazing pictures which you shared, they couldn’t have been more breathtaking to one’s eye than to me on a day like today, when (…. and I KID YOU NOT…!!!) I’d just had one of the most precious DREAMS OF MY LIFE!, ESP considering the fact that I so rarely even REMEMBER MINE…! When I happen to open to such a beauty— woah… now if this isn’t meant to be a complete sign from God proving to me that what my lifetime hopes, wishes and heartfelt desires are really coming to pass right before my eyes,…. then OK. I suppose I’ll definitely need to take a much slower ‘Woooosah’ meditation before I hit the sack tonight, because I certainly DO believe in dreams coming true!

    My applause to you, as well as to any and all who have your burning desire to do the same and place your thoughts out in sharing modes;) Blessings and good wishes🙏☕️🇺🇸🇨🇴

    1. Wow, many thanks for such a fulsome response, and particularly for your kind and generous words about my paintings which are all much appreciated. I’m so pleased my paintings resonated with you and would like to wish you every happiness and best wishes towards your dreams coming true!

      1. Thanks John! Trust you/me— DITTO X 10 on that dream for me as well…! Praise God for my 2 Immigrant and thankfully, still-alive parents, -which for me- I honestly believe it’s them although distant, keeping ME ALIVE, with such strong Morals, Values & Foundations to be what I call a ‘Universal!, lover of ALL being from NY as diverse as the ‘City that Never Sleeps!, already is in it of itself…

        So hopefully despite my current mini ‘storm,’ I’m hurdling through at the present time, maybe it’s God’s way of purifying me in the same way a Jeweler does with his Gold thru the fire, so as ‘to be tested..!, kind of like that old interrupted commercial whereby Television shows themselves were also tested with the annoying 1 minute sound, along with the nearly neon vertical bars across your entire screen! Just lovely…😒

        The very best to you as well, and just by chance– if you ever wish to connect via email, feel free to shoot me yours, as I’m a huge night owl! God Bless🙏

    1. Thanks so much for this – I really appreciate your kind and generous comments. Good luck too with your mission and vision for the Philippines!

        1. Thanks for this and good luck with the writing! (Hats off to you too as a mum – really enjoyed and, seeing the mother to our daughter juggle similar commitments and interest, I have the utmost respect and admiration for all mums!)

    1. Thanks for this and I’ll try to check back in on your big painting project! I’ve just visited and had a look at your list of materials so look forward to seeing what you create with them.

    1. Hi Bev and thanks so much for your kind and generous comments! As for painting more – I know I’m biased because I’m already hooked, but I think it’s definitely worth it if you get an inkling!

  5. Once my art teacher told me that an artist is never fully satisfied with his work and really finished and as I saw your post it reminded me of that. I think other people see your work as it is beautiful, inspiring, interesting.
    The shadows your painting captured and the colours are fascinating!

    1. Thanks so much for your comments! I’m still not sure I can honestly call myself an artist but I agree with your art teacher! I don’t really wish to demean or denigrate my own work but the blog’s a really helpful way to critique my own efforts, and then kind of let go of the critical and move on to another painting. Never really occurred to me before but that’s the way it seems to work for me! Wouldn’t have reached this without your comments so thanks very much – really appreciate you taking the time to comment!

  6. Well, I must say that I like your work. As a fairly accomplished amateur photographer, I was quite interested in your perspectives on the paintings . You are a perfectionist, and that is good. But give yourself credit for your beautiful works.

    1. Thanks so much Tim and I really appreciate your comments and wise words! They brought to mind a quote I saw recently – I think from the surrealist Salvador Dali that went something along the lines of ‘don’t be afraid of perfection- you’ll never achieve it’!

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  8. If you had that (das) boat anchored on the Seine, I’d wager you’d find yourself busy fending off – or hosting – inquiring eyes (locals and tourists alike)! What lovely illustrations.

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words about the paintings – much appreciated! As for fending of inquiring eyes etc – I think it’s a burden that I’d be willing to bear!

    1. Thanks so much for this Kathy – so glad you like the blog although still slightly embarrassed (and enormously flattered) at being thought of as an artist! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment – I really appreciate it!

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  10. @ Moored on Seine; I like how the mooring lines in the foreground almost disappear into the watersurface. Thus, a combination of both paintings. It lifts out the vessel, I mean as in less ‘distraction’ in the foreground.

    1. Thanks so much for this Martin and yes, I agree, the mooring lines really help the composition of this and it’s as much down to luck as it is to judgement that they turned out ok as you only really get one chance to paint those in!

  11. Great, John! I really don´t think it is a looser. It has so many great moments. Of course I understand what you mean and I really know the difficulties of recreating something from another attempt. But especially the looseness on the left side really hits me! The Seine pictures are both great, but I like the sketch a little bit better because of the spontaneous quality. Beautiful works!

    1. Thanks so much for this Carsten, I really appreciate your comments. I think I’m currently treading a real tightrope between control and spontaneity and it feels like it may take me a long time for me to get the balance right! Fortunately it’s only paint and paper so doesn’t hurt too much when I fall off every now and then!

      1. Nobody knows about this feeling better than I do, John. I am riding on the same boat… and it seems to be a looooooooooooong journey! 🙂 But you have achieved so much already! I am just a bloody beginner.

        1. It’s so funny how we all see ourselves and others! I think that I’m just a beginner and look at you with your unmistakable style, approach and subject matter (it’s like you’ve created an entire genre all of your own!) What I do agree with though is sense that all our journeys are going to be long ones! I console myself sometimes that perhaps the journey is more important than the destination!

          1. Yes, I am glad that it is a long journey – and the journey is much more important than the destination. There is nothing wrong with being a beginner. I´ll try to be one as long as possible, curious, amazed and thrilled by other´s great art without getting frustrated about my own slowly growing abilities.

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