Water provides endless possibilities for design in landscape painting. Today I want to show you several paintings by the British landscape painter Edward Seago (1910-1974) as examples of how the reflections themselves can be used to create and establish the composition.
The important thing to remember here is that these paintings were designed, not found. In other words, Seago used a motif from Nature and then edited it to suit his aesthetic purposes. Nature provides the raw material, we make the painting.
In these first two paintings you see a familiar device used by Seago. The vertical reflection in the water is used as a way to get the viewer into the painting and also a way to tie the water, land and sky together visually. If you hold your finger over the reflection of the mast, you will see how crucial that element is to the design.
In this painting, Seago is using puddles of water to direct the viewer into the painting. The reflection of the buildings tie the land with those reflections. The vertical reflections of the telephone poles offer a counterpoint and tie the sky and land together.
In this beautiful moody watercolor, Seago’s use of a limited palette and close values creates a palpable mood to the painting. Although Seago was an impressionist, his use of these essentially Tonalist devices here is very effective. Again, the reflection of the piling draws us into the painting and over to the long sweep of the sea wall.
Another painting with a limited palette and with the same compositional devices we have seen previously in his work. Seago creates a strong vertical on the left side but by placing the boat close to it on a slight diagonal and facing inward, he redirects the eye and creates movement across the picture plane.