*Frederick Judd Waugh

                      Listen as a podcast on YouTube

Armand Cabrera

Frederick Judd Waugh was born in Bordentown, New Jersey on September 13, 1861. He was the youngest of five children. His father, Samuel Bell Waugh, was an accomplished portrait painter.

At nineteen, Waugh attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art for three years, studying under Thomas Eakins and Thomas Anschutz. Upon his graduation, Frederick sought further study in Paris at the Academie Julian under Adolphe William Bouguereau and Robert Fleury.

In 1892, Waugh married Clara Eugenie Bunn, a fellow art student from the Pennsylvania Academy. In 1893, the couple moved to the Island of Sark in the English Channel where they stayed for two years. It was on this island Waugh began his study of the sea. According to the artist, the island was a model for most of the conditions the marine painter needed to study.

In 1899, the Waugh’s moved to Hendon, eight miles outside of London. Waugh began working as an illustrator to support his growing family of four. In 1907, he entered two pieces into the Royal Academy show. They were both rejected, so Waugh decided to return to America.

Waugh and his family settled in Montclair Heights, New Jersey. He found a studio nearby in Montclair. It was the former studio of Gorge Inness Jr. and could accommodate the large paintings Waugh had planned to paint. The artist bartered his rent for one painting a year.

In 1910, Waugh won the Thomas B. Clark Prize at the National Academy of Design show. Over the next seven years, he established himself as the most popular marine painter in the country. Waugh was elected a full member of the National Academy of Design. He continued to paint the sea in all its moods and glory, winning many awards in his lifetime.

Waugh always painted from direct observation, but these studies were not for sale. Instead, Waugh used the studies, along with his memory of the experience to create finished paintings in the studio. His large studio paintings have a power and majesty rarely captured by most marine painters.

Frederick Waugh died in Provincetown, Massachusetts on Sept 10, 1940, at the age of seventy-nine.

Frederick Judd Waugh,
American Marine painter
George R. Havens
University of Maine Press 1969

QuoteI say if you can do so, grab the whole thing in one continuous period of time. Your work will have the vitality and snap it needs to convey its full significance.
~Frederick Judd Waugh

Frederick Waugh Notes on Marine Painting

By Armand Cabrera

Frederick Waugh is America’s greatest marine painter. He was very successful in his long career. I did a biography on him here for this blog in 2008.

 Before he died Waugh had put together a ten chapter book on marine painting. Although the book was never published we have excerpts provided by George Havens at the end of his biography on Waugh written in 1969. These are some of the more generic quotes on painting the sea.

Waugh listed his palette as permalba white, the cadmiums, alizarin, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, viridian, raw sienna, burnt sienna and ivory black. He says “My medium for first painting is a little turpentine. Afterwards color as it comes from the tube. If need be, a little oil, but be careful of that.”

• No Doubt the sea is a difficult subject. To paint it convincingly means long, careful observation of its many phases and anatomy, for the sea has anatomy.

• I both paint from the sea and watch it carefully, and the later way of studying I am sure is invaluable.

• Paint as rapidly as possible, I want to stress that the more you can finish as you go the better.

• Simplify, simplify, simplify as much as possible without losing the essential of what is sought

• Look for the big things, art doesn’t begin and end in detail. It rather begins in breadth and ends in more breadth, in what you can do without.

• I have always held that with a few exceptions, no two spaces in a picture should be of the same area or shape.

• I find that my most striking pictures of the sea are those strong in contrasts, the shadows as dark as I can get them and everything in between of the proper value all the way up to the highest light I select to use. Walking back to judge the work at a distance preserves its carrying quality and force; I walk back all day long. The carrying quality is given by the accents one puts on the shadows, halftones and highlights. This means full rich painting in proper values.

• A sense of mystery is often conveyed by certain passages which lack obviousness because left unfinished.

• I have always believed in establishing the sky tone, in general, as soon as possible. In sea painting the rest depends upon it because of the element of reflection.

• The result of direct painting, in skillful hands is the best ever. It goes far ahead of labored work, painting after painting, day after day, with perhaps ones mental attitude on the change. I say, if you can grab the whole in one continuous period of time, unaffected by breakfast, lunch, dinner or the evening’s amusements or other preoccupations. One day you may feel one way, the next day may be different. Take hold of the motif, of the technique of the enthusiasm of a whole unbroken day if possible.

• Observations, concentration then application.

Frederick Judd Waugh American Marine Painter
George R Havens
Univesity of Maine Press 1969

Frederick Waugh Notes on Marine Painting Part 2

These are the rest of Frederick Judd Waughs notes on Marine Painting.   I highly recommend the biography on his life written by George R Havens published in 1969, if you can find a copy.

I find to paint the sea in a modernistic way, something is lacking, just because in this case, subject counts. The sea to my way of thinking should look like the sea.

Of course to paint the sea on the spot is good- very good- but at its best it is confusing. At first one is inclined to paint every sort of wave which comes, dropping the one which has been laid in for another one. Soon however the attention becomes riveted upon one peculiarly attractive phase and you look for repetitions of it until by degrees you have worked it out.

So I, when I paint waves from nature, make up my mind what composition in drawing I will undertake, and stick to that one rigidly until the end, no matter what other composition comes forward to claim my attention. This continual watching for repetitions in the anatomy of the sea is no end of a help to the student. If however you cannot go to the sea, how on earth do you expect to paint marines? There is no textbook on the subject which can give you the same insight as the sea itself- nor will pictures do so entirely. Photographs are incorrect, in that the color and values are wrong…

In general, all waves must have weight body color which is varied in tone, light and shadow. They have bulging curves. Leave the sharp edges to the rocks especially for contrast. A wave is carried forward by the weight behind it until reaching the shallow water where the directing power of the sand forces the top to fall over. The expanding shut-in air breaks into foam. The wave continues to rush forward and part of the foam is left behind by the back force which forms innumerable patterns.

The sea itself is very subtle in color and ever changing, you must learn by heart these subtleties, if you want to do it well. You cannot throw a few daubs of paint and expect to find the sea painted in a convincing manner. I say that if the sea is to be painted in a worthwhile manner, the painter must study it from nature each part of the year, until the time arrives when they can paint it quite well from memory as from the real.

It is a good plan to begin by looking at the general tone of the sea as compared with the sky, and striving, without painting the details, to paint a single mass of plain water against the sky in its right relation, both in value and color. This also applies to painting the sea against rocks or sand.

I do not pay particular attention to details now but I am glad I used to do so because knowing them intimately aids me to paint broadly with more certainty than if I never studied them.

Finally it is better to err upon the side of loose, ragged painting than upon the side of tight, close hard, finished painting. Nevertheless everyone should study both in line drawing and in mass with color or pencil or charcoal.


Frderick Judd Waugh American Marine Painter
George R Havens
University of Maine Press 1969

Frederick Waugh’s Paintings of the Sea
Walter foster book 153
Walter Foster Publishing

Waugh passed away at the age of 79 on September 10 1940 in Provincetown MA. The cross that marks his grave is inscribed with the 19th verse of Psalm 77, it reads

“Thy way is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known.”