Open Sea

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A clipper ship sailing before the wind, out in the immensity of the ocean. This is a painting that resonates with the sound of the sea untrammeled. Or, as artist Christopher Blossom says of this oil-on-canvas work, it shows “the constant movement of thousands of tons of water relentlessly rolling on with only the sound of the wind and the occasional rushing tumble of a collapsing wave crest.”

Blossom, whose grandfather Earl and father, David, were both commercial artists, has been painting for most of his 63 years. Informal studies with his father led him to New York’s Parsons School of Design. Then, while attending Robert Bourke’s industrial design studio, Blossom learned to interpret ship blueprints, which enabled him to create maritime scenes with authentic details. As this painting illustrates, that type of scene doesn’t necessarily need a ship front and center. Here, the ship is in the distance, with the great rolling waves separating it from the viewer. “It suggests that this is not where the viewer belongs, so far from the safety of the ship,” Blossom says. Instead, the perspective is from the water, which seems vibrant and real.

“I enjoy the process of painting water,” the artist says. “It can offer many possibilities for dynamic composition.” In fact, the far-off clipper could be any vessel, for the purposes of the painting. “I was looking at the plans for the Challenge, a clipper ship of 1851 built by William Webb of New York when I was working on this painting,” Blossom says. “But, the boat is really there to establish scale and introduce the human element, our insignificance in the face of such power and immensity.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue.