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The painting used for this analysis is known as On the Beach measuring 12 7/16 x 16 in. (31.6 x 40.7 cm) by Edward Henry Potthast. The painting is made on canvas of warm, earth color. The effect of this is that a warm-toned base is used to cover the bare white color of the canvas. The drawing is less detailed probably to enhance easy movement of figures and to change the proportions of the figures without damaging them when there is need to redo the entire painting. The paint used is thin, and it brings out the painting’s tonal plan. The dark is spotted; the sky and waters are deepened to bring out the painting’s tonal organization. The painting has simple, thick strokes which give the painting an ally of simplicity. Warm dark skies with white highlights in the horizon help to create distance. There are dark drawls beneath the waves. The artist has saved light for the sand which looks crispy beside the rich bathing trunk. The images of women and children lying on the sand are vividly depicted.
His toned canvas surface is lightly and thinly washed with what appears to be sienna or burnt umber. The painter has used a brush to draw his compositions thereby managing to show the basic figures and the proportions of the ocean, beach and props. A mosaic of colors, light and shadows has been applied thickly so as to give a light-struck effect of the themes. It appears that the painter had used wet, thick paint to model the forms with an additional detail just to make the theme convincing. The brush work, though playful, makes the forms remain solid and the drawing intact.
The color scheme in the painting helps one capture the salty, warm seaside air of the ocean, probably due to the fact that the drawing was done in the glare of the sun. The light on the shore highlights the beach, the sea, sand and some of the figures. He then contrasts these with a sharp but dark accent of blue patches of water. A tonal difference has been maintained between the light and the shadows, warm and cool colors. The shadows in this drawing are filled with cool but reflected light from the water and the sky. The cool effect has been emphasized by blue colors in the shadow mixtures. The sun-filled lights warm up the drawing by introducing patches of orange and yellow that help capture the mood and time the painting was done (Brooklyn Museum).
The figures have been brushed boldly in both warm and cool colors though the figures have not been detailed. The sky painting has been simplified together with the sand and umbrella, which has the effect of creating busy activities without necessarily subduing the drawing’s composition. The sky and the sand have been drawn in clean shapes that form abstract bases which huddle the umbrellas and the people.
The drawing shows the painter’s ability to form organized clusters of people. The people in the drawing appear very close. This has been achieved by adding tones and colors. The ensemble looks sparkling and fresh due to the use of dark strips that offer a contrasting effect to that of the ocean. This gives it a stabilizing horizontal. The water does not take up much space in this composition. However, it is seen throughout the drawing because of the cool and light colors used to paint. A similar effect has been used for the sky with it being painted blue. Waves in the water seem conventional to the extent that they indicate distance and space.