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Painting the America’s Cup Action

The San Francisco Bay provides a beautiful setting for inspiring paintings, and it doesn't disappoint with the international boat race.

What an amazing opportunity to view the fastest sailboats in the world competing in challenging winds and currents on the San Francisco Bay at the America’s Cup World Series events this month and again in October.

As a painter of landscapes and seascapes, I decided to capture the racing action on the bay. Before I settled in to paint, I spent a few days scoping out vistas of the race site. I attended and photographed two days of racing, then decided on the best location for my first painting.

I wanted to paint the size of the boats in contrast to San Francisco landmarks, so I chose Alcatraz Island as the background image for this painting.

First I painted the blue sky emerging below the fog, then the island shape, followed by the water. I added the details and muted the colors, so the boat would appear more dramatic.

Ahead of the pack was the Oracle Team USA boat, speeding westward in front of Alcatraz Island. I observed the size in comparison to Alcatraz, noting that the American flag near the top of the main sail was just above the prison building. 

Before I could get the black paint on my brush, the boat was gone—no longer in front of Alcatraz!

I had pre-planned where I wanted the boat in my painting composition, so I brushed the shape of the sail onto the canvas, then attached it to the boat. The white water trailing the boat created the fast forward motion. A few whitecaps and splashing waves on the shores of Alcatraz told the rest of the story.

Now for the details. My small brush marked suggestions of the words on the sail and hull. With more care I added the red, white and blue of the American flag.

By this time the race was over with the Oracle Team USA boat in first place. The crew strategically worked together to accomplish this win by navigating the bay with its challenging winds.

The final brushstrokes showed the crew in action—although they appear as white dots in the painting, they are champions in reality!

I’ll be back on the bay watching and painting the action during the final races today. My plan is to paint multiple boats in front of the Golden Gate Bridge. I’m hoping for a sunny, windy afternoon of excitement.

I hope to see you there. I’ll be on the rocks near the yacht club across the harbor from the Marina Green.

Janet Arline Barker is a San Bruno artist who specializes in plein-art painting. Her website is janetarlinebarker.com.

Janet Arline Barker August 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
It's a warm picture-perfect day at the Marina Green. Come on down to watch the finals of the America's Cup World Series-San Francisco. First race starts at 11:45. More pictures to come.
Michael Sterling August 26, 2012 at 08:10 PM
What incredibly awesome painting and photos of a fantastic once in a decade event! Kudos Janet for capturing the life of the races. It's like we were there.
Janet Arline Barker August 26, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thanks, Michael...I'm inspired to paint more boats on the bay. I also have some sunny day photos to refer to for future paintings.

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