I thought that this is a nice composition for a waterfall painting since the waterfall isn’t one straight chunk of water but instead it is divided into sections or tiered to create a pleasing shape. I haven’t developed the ability to create rocks as well as I would like and think that I still have some work to do before this really looks like a rock face but I do like the value changes and variation in texture. This is only my fourth waterfall painting so still do need to develop a better technique for creating cascading water and think the color’s in the water are a little patchy looking, I’ll try to remedy the situation in my next painting of this subject matter. I tried to keep the color selection as naturalistic and neutral as possible and think that it works and the shrubbery in the background is only suggested since I didn’t want to distract the eye from the main subject matter.
Waterfall, Pastels on Wallis Paper, 12×18″
There is something very beautiful about waterfalls that does make painting a few a must for most landscape painters. I’ve been researching the most notable waterfalls around the world and came across Silver Falls in Oregon, US and knew that I just had to paint this one. Hopefully research will yield more lovely pictures of this area, regardless, I will be returning to this subject. This particular waterfall is the Lower South Falls so one of my next waterfall subject will be the North Falls. I used Girault’s, Unison’s and Ludwig pastels on Uart paper.
Oregon’s Silverfalls Study, Soft Pastel on Uart Paper, 9×12″
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love trees, the more majestic they are the better and it’s hard to come across a tree with more presence than a redwood. I few years ago we planted a dawn redwood in our backyard hoping to one day have a tree similar to the mighty redwoods out west. The first tree didn’t make it since a cat used the trunk as a scratching post thereby killing it. We planted another in its place which is growing along nicely. I found a few pictures of the second dawn redwood on my computer and I was inspired to paint a mature redwood forest and I searched through several reference photos’ before finding a few to use. So this painting was completed in memory of the beautiful young dawn redwood that just wasn’t to be.
You can also read more about Metasequoia glyptostroboides from Michael A. Dirr’s book Hardy Trees and Shrubs: An Illustrated Encyclopedia Here
Redwood's Waterfall, Oil on Canvas, 18x26"
I tried to capture a sense of dampness and heaviness in the painting and perhaps a feeling of things lurking around the corner as is if the creatures of the forest have been frightened away by the viewer’s sudden appearance. I’ve started the painting a couple months ago with the mass planning and compositional block-in before beginning to lay in the first layer of color. I then set it down for a few weeks and completed a few pastel paintings since they come along much more quickly than my oil paintings. When I returned to this work it was time to begin layering in the foliage and textures of the tree bark followed by the surface layers of the water and reflections. After looking at the work for a couple days, I made a couple changes in the focal area and layered in more cerulean blue to help capture the viewer’s interest, or at least cerulean blue always gets mine, I think it is one of the most beautiful colors an artist can have on their palette and it’s wonderful for mixing good clear earthy greens, especially when combined with yellow ochre.
I’m never completely happy with anything I paint, however, this one seems to have a certain presence about it that doesn’t always happen so this one gets a passing grade.
After growing tired of using those scratchy hard pastels I decided to try the softer varieties and after much research about the health hazards and a good deal of colour and value comparisons I ordered Unison and Terry Ludwig landscape sets. The Unison’s are as wonderful as expected and the Ludwig’s are even better if you like their soft fluffy texture. I’m finding that the harder Unison pastels work better under the softer variety since they can lift the super soft pigment right off.
I also tried the Belgium Mist Wallis paper and the Ampersand Pastelbord and love both surfaces for entirely different reasons. Wallis is a super toothy sand paper that can take ridiculous amounts of pastel which does appeal to the oil painter within. The Pastelbord on the other hand is far more akin to drawing on paper with a little more tooth and I think it would work very nicely for oil pastel and pencil art if you really like to layer those colours. However, it works wonderfully for soft pastel as well but it won’t take as many layers and neither does it faithfully hold onto the pastel making far more likely to smudge.
I also love working on a hard surface so I will mount a sanded paper on foamboard or some kind of non-warping surface and try Richard McKinley’s wet-underpainting technique. This should also make framing much easier since I can bypass that dreaded matboard thing and all the related gadgets.
Here is my first soft pastel on Wallis:
|Spring Creek 12×18″ Pastel on Wallis
And my first pastel on Pastelbord:
|Woodland Garden Path 11×14″ Pastel on Board