Deep Sea Dweller

In my last post, I had introduced you all to the mighty and deadly underwater war machine, the Submarine. Here’s a sequel to the same, titled, “Deep Sea Dweller.” This one too exhibits the colossal boat in her full power and glory, as she prowls the expansive oceans, keeping a watchful eye on her enemy.

Pop Quiz!! Why do I refer to her as a boat? That’s because submarines are also called “boats” colloquially. Remember the term “U-Boats?” It is an anglicized version of the German word U-Boot, a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally “underseaboat”. While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one refers specifically to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. 

How’s that for submarine trivia? But let’s back to my artwork now. As the title suggests, this one resides in the deep abyss of the vast ocean, maneuvering covertly and patrolling the predators lurking above. She sneaks right under the noses of her adversaries, out of sight and without a sound. Her mere presence is enough to restrain the enemy from executing his vicious plans. Even though he cannot see her, he is well aware of her presence and her ability to annihilate him in a fraction of seconds.  

While the previous one was a conventional diesel submarine, this one portrays a more advanced, nuclear version. This is evident through the distinctive differences in their silhouette and appearance. I have endeavored to capture this very essence of the remarkably fearsome unit of warfare. The subject of this painting is not only larger in size and dimensions, but also sleeker and more streamlined than its predecessor. I have paid special attention to the technical detailing of the various parts of the submarine here as well, so as to depict it as authentically as possible.

Coming to the background, I have always been a big fan of sunset scenes. So what better than the setting sun as a backdrop to this glorious piece of machinery? As the light fades, the submarine emerges from the depths, with her enemy still unaware of her presence.

A sunset is the most spectacular and vibrant color palette painted across Mother Nature’s canvas, the sky. The many different shades of the sky as the sun sinks beyond the horizon, serves as a source of inspiration for me. The sunset I had in mind for this particular composition, comprised more of warm tones of yellow, orange and red. In order to enhance the dark shadows in the clouds, I have combined these shades with burnt umber or Payne’s Grey in varying intensities to achieve the desired effects.

Just like the sky, I have depicted the waters surrounding the sub in similar shades of yellow, orange and red. Not only does this impart a surrealistic feel to the painting, but also serves as a reflection of the sky above in the mirror of the vast ocean below.

Since my medium of choice here was oils, let me talk a bit about the technique of oil painting. I generally start with a super thin layer of the oils I use, in this case, a mixture of linseed and turpentine oils. While the former is a medium for my oil paints, the latter serves as a thinner or solvent and helps the colors spread evenly onto the canvas. As a general rule, I work from light to dark, starting with the yellows and oranges, adding the darker colors later. The advantage of working in this order is that not only is it easier to make your composition darker than to lighten it, but also it is easier to clean off lighter colors from your brushes and reuse them more efficiently.

I have painted the initial layers with longer brush strokes to get the overall effect of a sunset sky. Thereafter, I delved into the detailing of the clouds, paying special attention to their shape and shadows. In order to give the clouds a natural look, I used a dry brush with just a dab of paint and no oil, moving it in circular motions onto the initial layer I had laid down for the sky. But mind you, this first layer must be more or less completely dry so that the colors of the second layer do not merge into it.  This technique tightened up the shape of the clouds pretty well.  As mentioned earlier, mixing your warm tones with burnt umber or Payne’s Grey takes care of the darker shadows of the clouds.

Once I had all my colors down, I blended them, so as to get softer edges. Even the edges of clouds tend to be surprisingly soft.  I gave special emphasis to the tone of the sky toward the top of the scene compared to the horizon, as well as the areas of light tone where the sun catches the edges of clouds (I added a little white here for a more dramatic effect).

For the sun, I simply pulled yellow outwards from its extremity towards the edge of the canvas with my brushstrokes. As earlier, I added orange above the yellow, blending it in by pulling it slightly down into the yellow. Pulling the yellow into the orange gives a more uniform blend.  I added red the same way, making sure I blend it like the orange and yellow.

I added some white highlights in the sun to make it stand out and went over it in yellow once more to make it more vibrant. Just like the sunset, the water of the sea was painted with simple brush strokes and blending technique. Once again I used a combination of burnt umber and Payne’s Grey to render the submarine, with a touch of white to display the minute markings on its hull.

Feeling inspired enough? So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and pick up your brushes and paints, splash the colors of twilight onto your canvas and add a submarine on top!!

5 thoughts on “Deep Sea Dweller

  1. Both are paintings of submarines, yet so differently depicted . The majestic grandeur and the quiet stealth amidst the vast expanse of ocean is brought out so superbly.
    The blog as usual is very well written evoking a lot of imagery.
    I also like the simple way by means of which the technique used is described.
    Looking forward to your next one Neha.


  2. As expected, your write up is excellent. As I had seen the painting before and had appreciated it then, all I’ll add now is that the concept of depicting the submarine in front of a setting sun enhances the stealth and lethal power of the former.


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