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Chasing Waterfalls - How to Paint Moving Water in Acrylics

Posted on Thu 16 Apr 2015

When photographing falling water you have two choices: to capture a moment frozen in which all the moving water is in full detail by using a fast shutter speed, or get a more moody shot by using a slower shutter speed, to capture the falling water in soft focus, almost like white candy floss. I tend to take multiple shots of the same scene to get the best possible reference for later studies. Bear in mind that a lot of the lights go white and the darks can go black, so it’s best to take two extra shots, one exposing the lights and also one for the darks.

Also, in order to get the complete view in the frame you may have to use a wide-angle setting and this presents you with the problem of distortion by compressing the scene. Overcome this by taking a few shots at a standard setting and paste the photos together to get a truer picture.

DEMONSTRATION High Water, Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire Dales

MATERIALS

  • Canvas board
  • Atelier Interactive Acrylics: transparent yellow, Indian yellow, transparent perinone orange, trans red oxide, cerulean blue, phthalo blue, ultramarine, cobalt turquoise
  • 2B pencil
  • Sterling acrylic brushes: 8, 6, 4, 2 flats; 4, 2 rounds; 4, 6 riggers
  • Spray diffuser bottle
Chasing Waterfalls - How to Paint Moving Water in Acrylics
  • Step One

    Having brushed a few coats of white gesso onto my canvas board to give me some random texture to paint on, I lightly drew the main elements of the picture in 2B pencil. Diluting the paints to a watercolour consistency I used my large flat brushes to block in the riverbank using transparent yellow, Indian yellow, orange, phthalo blue and red oxide.

  • Step Two

    Keeping the colours very wet so they mingled on the canvas like watercolour, I moved down into the rocks, I kept the edges sharp but where the water overlaps I sprayed the area with water using my spray diffuser. Acrylics give you the choice of either leaving your whites, as per watercolour, or over painting them. As an avid watercolourist I leave white areas of white paper when painting with acrylics.

  • Step Three

    I strengthened the trees and undergrowth and using my No. 8 round flicked in some strong green accents using transparent yellow, phthalo blue and cerulean blue. Glazing colour over the foreground rocks helped to intensify the depth of tone.

  • Step Four

    I began to establish some of the darker areas with stronger paint and also added details. With a stronger mix of orange, red oxide and ultramarine I 'carved out' detail in the rocks within the waterfall and increased the depth of colour in the underlying rock strata at the base of the falls, keeping it fluid so the colours flowed.

  • Finished Painting

    High Water, Aysgarth Falls, Yorkshire Dales, acrylic, (40x50cm)

    Having established all my basic colours I went in with my rigger and white paint to 'tick' in the final details of the falling water and foam trails. I finished off with a few glazes here and there to unify some passages of colour and some final details to the background trees and foreground bank.

    Barry Herniman tutors painting holidays at home and abroad. He also demonstrates and takes workshops for art societies.For details see wwwbarryherniman.com or email bazherrflick@gmail.com. Barry’s Cloverleaf watercolour paintbox is available at www.cloverleafpaintbox.com

  • This feature is taken from the June 2015 issue of The Artist

    Click here to purchase your copy for more practical and inspirational art features.

Comments

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  • simple drawing, solid, without excess of pretensions, the drawing is enough to communicate the general idea of the work, it is not seen that it has aspirations of being naturalistic, it is sculptural, firm, the color is vibrant but it is managed with balance and with enough intelligence to make it not explode within each part of the work competing individually. to recommend my favorite artists Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frida Kahlo, Roberto Matta Gabino amaya cacho and Pablo Picasso.

    Posted by Nick sampras on Sat 16 Sep 02:36:45