“Simply stated, each of the four major directions in movement behaves differently. Horizontals, almost by definition, can be considered earthbound, solid, comforting, and stable. They move only left and right. Conversely, vertical, moving up and down, induce a feeling of growing, striving, even exaltation. Diagonals have a cutting, slashing, impetuous quality … Swirling, curvaceous movement has a repetitive grace. Used profusely, it can personify restlessness. … Generally you gain by relying mainly on one direction … and using anything else for purely subordinate purposes.”— Lawrence C Goldsmith, Watercolor Bold & Free, p25
In a seascape, is it the horizon line that’s the dominant direction or the curves of the waves at the shore? It all depends on how I position myself, and what the sea conditions are like.
The photo below was taken at Talisker Bay on the Isle of Skye, on a day where there was a strong wind blowing into the oncoming waves, spreading spray up above the horizon, leaving only sections of the horizontal line.
One of the paintings this day inspired had a composition from a higher viewpoint, not at sea level. The horizon line is dominant if you’re looking at the top third of the painting, enhanced by the fairly uniform sky colour. It creates a context for the more abstract lower part of the painting.