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Sunrise Painting: Faith In A Better Future

Last November, I revisited the Wave Series. My inspiration came from an idea to show how waves overcome hardships and tough times like roots. Both are resilient, but waves endure because they are water. But what began as a wave painting evolved into a sunrise painting.

My aim for this contemporary piece was to paint waves with contrasting colors. I had no intention of painting a sunrise. It appeared by surprise peeking through the waves. Serendipity happens when things are not forced and when the brush and painter flow as one like water.

Sunrise painting on canvas

I’m still relatively new to using canvas. Many of my previous abstract paintings are completed on fine art paper. Because both mediums absorb paint differently the application is different. But I still pour Chinese acrylic colors and ink and use a mix of Chinese calligraphy brushes.

However, painting on canvas with acrylic and ink involves more steps. First, you apply the gesso. Then you pour the colors in layers before working on the finer details. The gesso:

  • Reduces the amount of acrylic paint the canvas absorbs; and

  • Creates an underlying texture.

Many store-bought canvases come with gesso already applied. But gesso is also useful for creating an underlying texture. So, my first step in creating the Sunrise painting on canvas was to use gesso in the areas where I want to achieve a desired effect.

The painting, Sunrise in acrylic and ink uses bright colors for contrast

A significant effect though comes from the way I apply the acrylic paints, ink and brushes. In the Sunrise painting, the movement comes from the same origin and then spreads out. The movement from the wind and waves gives the sun a blurry effect.

Yellow was the first color I poured. I chose bright colors to create contrast. The larger Chinese brushes cover a greater area of the canvas, helping to splash the paint across it in a wave. Next came the wind, dirt, and water.

I use smaller calligraphy brushes to create finer details in my artwork. While waiting for layers to dry, I blend different colors with wet and dry brushes to create varying textures and elaborate lines, like those seen below in the detailed extract of the wave.

Sunrise an abstract painting provides faith for a better future

It wasn’t until I had begun working on the layers and intricate details that I realized the sun had taken a prominent position in the art. Waves especially big waves often signify misfortune, whereas a rising sun provides hope for a better future.

Aside from the sun, you may also see other familiar shapes in the detail of the painting. Just to the right of the sun, the form of a bird rises from the ocean as if trying to break free. Its wings spread upwards, while its long beak dips back towards the peak of the wave.

Perhaps, it looks at the creatures below caught in the crest of the wave with their open mouths. Further to the right a long-tailed rat, or a dragon, or a dog swims toward it and the rising sun.

Finding recognizable shapes in abstract paintings can be fun, whether they are deliberate or serendipitous, it adds to the viewers' enjoyment and meaning-making.

The sunrise represents the future

The finished result of this painting illustrates a sunrise on the coast, where the sun can be seen through the large waves. Waves even with their crests and wake are water blown by the wind.

This painting of a sunrise also symbolizes hope for a better future, as well as a strong belief that endures through tough times.

Title: Sunrise

Year: 2018

Medium: Acrylic and ink on canvas

Dimensions: 36x36 Inch

Shulin Sun

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