The piece of artwork Uncharted Waters by Lorraine Berhow is an oil based painting consisting entirely of reddish-orange, yellow, and black paint. It depicts two galleon ships on rolling waves. The ships sail under a sky as smooth* and dark as onyx, dotted only by a few vivid clouds. They chase the horizon towards “Uncharted Waters,” hence the name.
There are multiple reasons that I chose this piece from among almost limitless choices. Not only does it portray the romanticism of the ocean, it was also painted by my grandmother. She was a very avid painter whilst she was still alive (baking and painting were her favorite hobbies). Although she created a vast number of pieces in her life, “Minnesota Nice” made sure everybody, including the grandchildren, got one. “Uncharted Waters” had always been my favorite. It hung in the guest bedroom where I always stayed, so along with the smell* of doughnuts, I associated it with her home. Its familiarity made picking my one painting an easy choice. However, unknown to me before I chose it, I found out that it is also the first piece she ever kept for herself. The very first that she had hung after she had painted it. It is the headwaters of the river of art that flowed into the homes of so many relatives.
“Uncharted Waters” tells a vast number of stories within its canvas. To this day, I still do not know how Lorraine envisioned it. When I was younger, I would simply wonder where the ships were heading. It could have represented the first voyage to the Americas. Maybe the clouds show a storm and they were swept away like a paper boat into a rain gutter. Could they be sailing the red oceans of some Lovecraftian world under black sky? What could the crew be thinking in all these different situations? These are all thoughts I had looking at this painting. As I get older, looking at the painting can still give it different stories. In them, The rolling waves could be as powerful and oppressive as the Soviet Regime, or as serene and gentle as a feather carried on the wind. It all depended on which angle it was viewed from.
Although this piece can tell as many stories as a drunken sailor, I like it most because of the depiction of the ocean. The colors match perfectly with how I envision the “romanticism” of the ocean. Just looking at the waves, the viewer can smell the salty sea; the crash of water against the hull. The red and yellow hues of the painting; the void called sky; the blending of color in the water; they all come together so well. The spirit of adventure is captured in the ships too. Bravely, they sail where none have before. Small details in the painting draw me in. Small portholes on the sides of the ships, as well as some of the rigging on the sails are lovely little touches added to this piece. All these details come together to form a piece that is simply nice and relaxing to look at.
Combined with its history, as well as its one of a kind nature, “Uncharted Waters” is a very interesting combination of paint and canvas. From an early age this piece has blown me away. The painting hasn’t aged since I first saw it, and sometimes when I look at it, neither have I. The ships are still on their voyage, as am I. The simplicity of this painting and its symbolism all combine to make “Uncharted Waters” an important piece of artwork to me.