A Closer Look at The Schooner J. & E. Riggin

One of my favorite maritime subjects to paint over the years has been the beautiful, historic schooner J. & E. Riggin out of Rockland, Maine.  There is something about the sleek lines, the black hull and the rigging that appeals to me aesthetically.  Over the years I’ve probably painted it close to a dozen times.  Two of those paintings we’ve chosen to keep in our private collection, to hold onto for posterity. 

The first is entitled The Schooner J. & E. Riggin, painted in 2003, depicted from her port side under full-sail.  I spent countless hours dappling the blue sky with various tiny dots of color, eventually creating a sense of depth to the atmosphere.  The white clouds have subtle transitions of shading from light to dark and the richness of the blue sky allows the clouds to really pop.  I’m pleased too with the way the water has movement, reflective light and a range of colors that help in identifying the various planes of water. 

Schooner J. & E. Riggin   by William R. Beebe, NFS

Schooner J. & E. Riggin by William R. Beebe, NFS

But most importantly, an enormous amount of time went into a realistic portrayal of the J. & E. down to the smallest degree.  When I photographed it I was lucky to have excellent lighting, which created nice cast shadows on the deck.  It is one of those paintings that I never get tired of looking at, not because I painted it, but because I’m transported back to that moment when I was cruising alongside the black beauty. 

The painting was included in the Coos Art Museum, Coos Bay, Oregon, 12th Annual Maritime Art exhibit in 2005 and won a Merit Award.  When it returned home from the show we decided it was one of those paintings that we just couldn’t part with. 

The second of the two paintings I painted in 2006 is entitled Storm Approaching.  It is a close-up of the J. & E. also from the port side. 

Storm Approaching   by William R. Beebe, NFS

Storm Approaching by William R. Beebe, NFS

I basically took a zoom lens and focused in on the beauty of the ship.  This allowed me to show the wood grain in the masts, the shine on all of the brightwork, the rigging and all of the details that make the J. & E. Riggin one of the most beautiful, historic wooden schooners existing today. Light can be seen shining through the taut canvas sails.  Through many thin layers of paint (glazing) I developed a sense of translucency.

Storm Approaching   (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Storm Approaching (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

All was done on a super smooth, glossy surface, highly varnished, giving the water a sense of wetness and the schooner a spit shine. 

Storm Approaching   (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Storm Approaching (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

The scene depicts all hands on deck getting ready for the storm approaching.  There is a sense of urgency but the skipper, Captain Jon Finger, exudes confidence in his ship and his crew. 

Storm Approaching   (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

Storm Approaching (detail shot) by William R. Beebe

I was honored to have Storm Approaching exhibited in the 27th Annual Modern Marine Masters Exhibition in the Maritime Gallery in Mystic, Connecticut in 2006.  Upon returning home from the show, it too became part of our personal collection. 

When an artist has a passion about his subject matter it helps create a stronger work.  I painted these two works having a great appreciation for this special schooner!

Information about the J. & E. Riggin can be found here. To view more of my maritime paintings click here.