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Damon Tran
R1A Sect. 017
Professor Teri Crisp
December 13, 2019
The Monhegan Experience

Exploring the de Young Museum in San Francisco was an extraordinary experience

which one can only experience themselves. There is an abundant amount of breathtaking pieces

which are all equally interesting and compelling. Many pieces were extravagant with abstract

colors and busy lines but the piece which interested me the most was one that was simple and

uncomplicated. Presented in exhibit 29 was the piece named ​Afternoon on the Sea, Monhegan.

For some reason, something about this piece charmed me. When first approaching the painting, I

was confused about whether I should really write a paper about this minimalist painting. But

further inspection of my emotions and feelings towards the piece forced me to decide on it. The

painting looked so calming and the overall appearance of the painting transported me to a

relaxing reality. This was the first time a painting made me feel this way. Since then, a question

that has always stuck in my head was: how did Rockwell Kent, the artist, create such a piece

which can promote such emotions within people?

Rockwell Kent was a painter, writer and explorer who enjoyed creating pieces which

depict both land and sea in the natural world. He illustrated many different islands in his works

which include Tierra del Fuego, Greenland and Monhegan Island. In fact, two of his most

famous works are illustrations of Monhegan Island and the pieces are named: ​Afternoon on the

Sea ​and ​Late Afternoon. ​The island is located ten miles off the coast of Maine, United States and

is only about one square mile in area. It is a small yet beautiful island which inspired Kent to

create paintings which express the emotions which he felt while visiting the island. ​Afternoon on
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the Sea​ depicts the coast of Monhegan

Island with a beautiful shine of the sun

coming from the left of the gigantic

rock which resides on the coast. There

are fishermen sailing towards the rock

in small boats which can be seen

floating in the elegant water with

carefully placed waves. The water

glistening in the sunlight and alive

Afternoon on the Sea, Mohengan

- Rockwell Kent

Appendix A

with the movement of the waves. Rockwell Kent created something extraordinary with simple

objects and subjects which portray the emotions that are felt when visiting Monhegan Island.

The tranquil feeling of the overall piece is achieved by the use of many different elements

of art such as line, shape, color, space and texture. The water in the piece displays all of these

elements. The lines can be seen in the calm waves which flow through the soothing water. They

are lines which are faded and not defined. They also serve to show movement in a still piece.

Artist acknowledge that different kinds of lines are used to evoke different emotions or to

suggest an action that is taking place. In the case of the waves, the lines are squiggly and

diagonal for the most part, which is why they suggest movement within the water. The shape of

the water can also be seen in the waves as well. The waves form a hill like shape and not a
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typical sharp ended triangle which many people depict as waves normally. Hills are associated

with calmness and a sense of relaxation which can be noticed within the waves of the water.

Water is naturally blue, but Kent added in an extra detail which makes the water in the piece

unique. By adding simple gleaming spots of sunlight which are bright yellow in color, Kent

made the water seem more relaxing as the audience may imagine a peaceful sunrise over the

water. Additionally, the water is not a single shade of blue. There is a range of different hues of

blue water that adds depth in the piece and again, adds to the overall emotions of the piece. The

spacing of the water is naturally placed at the bottom of the painting but the waves within the

water are perfectly spaced out to not bother the eye of viewers. The texture of the waves are

something that I never witnessed in a painting before. The water almost looks like clay but

realistic enough to not seem fake. When looking at the painting, the audience may feel as if they

could feel the water. It is calming and tranquil, these feelings are only achievable from the use of

the elements of art which Kent combined beautifully.

However, the water is not the only subject in the painting which displays the elements of

art. In fact, the entire painting shows elements that help make it illustrate the sense of calmness.

The rock covered with ice which was placed almost perfectly in the middle of the piece is

completely balanced by color and can be argued to be the focal point of the piece. It contains

dark spots which are contrasted by the while ice that covers the surface of it. The sky provides

the morning feeling of the piece as there are yellow hues on the left side of the piece. The

fishermen serve to balance the entire piece entirely. The painting is mostly left balanced as the

dark spots on the rock are mostly placed on the left of the rock and the sun can be seen entering

the painting from the left side. But, the fishermen are sailing to the right on the elegant water
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which creates equilibrium to the painting. This is an example of asymmetrical balance which is

the most intricate and complicated form of balance an artist can achieve. Again, all of these

subjects that are made through the elements of art contribute to the feeling of undisturbed

restfulness and puts the viewers at peace.

​Afternoon on the Sea, Monhengan​ was one of Rockwell Kent’s earlier pieces. It showed

the potential of the great artist which Kent became from a young age. His ability to display

emotions through the canvas is one to none and truly something unique with his own art style.

The simple yet intricate painting could be argued to be one of Kent’s masterpieces and furthers

the importance of the elements of art as they relate to portraying emotions. The painting puts the

viewers at peace and grants the ability to feel calm; ultimately transporting viewers to a different

reality.
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Work Cited:

● Wien, Jake Milgram. “The Archetypal Landscapes Of Rockwell Kent by Jake Milgram
Wien.” ​InCollect,​ 3 Nov. 2017,
www.incollect.com/articles/the-archetypal-landscapes-of-rockwell-kent​.

● Samels, Zoe. “National Gallery of Art.” ​Artist Info,​ National Gallery of Art, 26 Sept. 2019,
www.nga.gov/collection/artist-info.4494.html​.

● Ferris, Scott R. “Rockwell Kent: A Painter of Monhegan.” ​Scott R. Ferris, Author and
Specialist on the Artwork of Rockwell Kent, A Painter of Monhegan​, 2018,
www.scottrferris.com/Essays/monhegan.html​.

Appendix A - photo taken by Damon Tran