I bought some stock photos to use as practice paintings. There’s one of the Big Sable Lighthouse in the Ludington State Park, one of the S.S. Badger, and one of the Ludington Lighthouse. Since I’m going to be there this summer, I thought I’d get some licks in.
I started with Big Sable Lighthouse first because I have some memories associated with it and I thought the black and white form was interesting. As it turned out, what was more interesting to me was the dune grass.
The first one I did based on two small studies plus an additional photo that had more detail of the lighthouse keepers house in front of the actual lighthouse. I was concerned with getting the details correct in this.
The second version I skipped the underpainting altogether and focused on the dune grass in the foreground. I liked the sway of the grass and imagined the wind that was making it twist around. I spent a lot less time on the lighthouse and even hid more of it behind the grass. It was while I was taking a close up photo of this piece that I had kind of an “aha” moment and saw the composition that I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it.
And this is the one that I like best of all three. I don’t know how popular it would be as a representation of the Big Sable Lighthouse and maybe I need to revisit the first one again, find a way to paint it that makes me happy and also is salable. But I feel like I could do this particular painting, no. 3, over and over again and never get tired of it. What do you think?