Coastal storm, 1905 signed and dated 'Granville Redmond / 05' (lower left) oil on canvas 42 x 50in overall: 56 x 63 3/4in
Before turning to the better known wildflower paintings, Granville Redmond was known as a tonalist painter and accordingly he focused on compositions that exemplified the hazy, foggy conditions of the Northern California landscape. Following his move from Philadelphia, Redmond studied art at the San Francisco School of Design. His teachers included Arthur Mathews and Amedee Joullin, both of whom often painted in a similar tonalist style. While training as a painter, Redmond became acquainted with many other artists including tonalists Gottardo Piazzoni and Giuseppe Cadenasso. Although Redmond was deaf it did not hamper his relationships with his fellow artists; his lifelong friend Piazzoni even learned sign language. Redmond distinguished himself as an art student and won the W.E. Brown medal of excellence. In 1893 he was awarded a grant from the California School of the Deaf which enabled him to study at the Academie Julian in Paris under Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant. While in Paris, Redmond distinguished himself once again when his large tonalist canvas, Matin d'Hiver, was accepted for the Paris Salon in 1895.
In 1898, he returned from Paris and settled in Los Angeles, where he painted many scenes in and around Laguna Beach, Catalina Island, and San Pedro. While living in Los Angeles, Redmond became friends with Charlie Chaplin, whom he helped in perfecting his pantomime techniques. Chaplin gave Redmond a studio on the movie lot, collected many of his paintings, and sponsored him in silent acting roles including playing the sculptor in City Lights, and a feature part in You'd Be Surprised. He also became acquainted with Los Angeles artists Elmer Wachtel and Norman St. Clair. All three exhibited paintings with Laguna Beach titles at the annual Spring Exhibition held in San Francisco in 1904. By 1905 Redmond was receiving considerable recognition as a leading landscape painter and bold colorist. Although he recognized the public's preference for his brightly colored poppy pictures, he generally preferred to paint darker, more poetic scenes.
In Coastal Storm Redmond's considerable talents as a painter are prominently displayed. Redmond chose to tackle a very difficult subject; the painting depicts a storm swallowing a lovely day. The clouds loom in the upper right but do not overwhelm the delicate blue tones in the water and the greens in the distant landscape. The wind-blown grasses in the foreground seem to sway and one can almost hear the wind blowing.