Book Review: A Gallery of Marine Art Selected by Jerry McClish
What's It About?
Gallery by title, and gallery by deed. Here we have an image-crammed book dedicated to the popular subject of marine art which presents 136 full-colour pictures of quiet coves, raging storms, elegant regattas and rugged fishing vessels.
Some of the chosen paintings are historical in character, depicting paddle-steamers and old sailing ships, while others are determinedly contemporary. The media employed ranges from oil paint, watercolours, pastels, acrylics and mixed media.
Each reproduced painting is described by media, size, and by the support on which it has been painted. Each painting is accompanied by a short description of the work, often with a few words from each contributing artist.
About the Author
Jerry McClish, (1920 - 2008), was the president of the International Society of Marine Painters. He has taught painting workshops in America, Mexico and the Caribbean. He has starred in a video series on art for Manatee Educational Television.
He graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1938, and spent many years living in the Bahamas where he developed a love of watercolour painting.
In 1976, a Jerry McClish founded the Gold Coast Watercolor Society and became its first president, but whether this is the same guy I am unsure as there is no website for either person.
A Gallery of Marine Art was published in 1999. McClish's second book, Loose Watercolour: A Step by Step Painting Guide, was published in 2003.
What's to Like?
McClish brings together a whole string of skilled, contemporary artists whom many readers would have otherwise probably not known of. What joins them is their fascination for the sea, and in A Gallery of Marine Art there is a generous selection of works, each accompanied by a brief description. The emphasis is firmly on the paintings rather than on the painters themselves, so the extent that a little more biographical detail would not have gone amiss.
The book has been pleasingly designed. The reproductions are of a good quality and decent size so they can be fully appreciated, as the author clearly hoped.
Subject matter, while all having the marine theme in common, is as diverse as it could get while remaining within that constraint, and so we have pure seascapes, beach scenes, waves crashing over rocks, storms and tranquility, plus ships of all imaginable types.
At the back of the book is a simple guide to nautical terms, plus an illustrated description of the more common types of sailing vessels, for the benefit of those of us, (myself included), who can just about tell the front of a boat from the back of one.
If you are looking for a book on famous marine paintings, then this is probably not for you as all the contributing artists are contemporary, if perhaps known among their own local circles. However, this is a very pleasing collection, easy on the eye and offering a broad range of artistic responses to the subject.
View Examples of Famous Marine Art
What's to Not Like?
This book features work from 44 women and 80 men, plus 6 others who identify their first names by initials only. While I have encountered worse imbalances in the art world, this could still be easily improved upon. Is 50/50 really so hard to achieve, considering the humongous number of women artists, both historical and contemporary?
Also, the contents of this book are described on the back cover as being "by artists from around the world." However, out of the 126 artists featured, 113 are from America, 4 from Canada, 1 from Switzerland, 3 from Britain, 5 from Australia, and none from anywhere else. That hardly represents the world! What happened to the remaining (approximate) 190 countries on this spinning globe?
The range of artistic genre could have been broader, as these paintings tend to be predominantly representational, which is not a negative in itself but again does not make for a comprehensive overview.
The biographical and bibliographical information in this article came from:
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© 2019 Adele Cosgrove-Bray