Monday, April 2, 2012

Dawn Waterfall in Oil Pastels

Dawn Waterfall

Sometimes when I start a painting, it doesn't go the way I planned. My reference for Dawn Waterfall is a black and white photo provided by Johannes Vloothuis for this week's homework in "Essentials of Painting Rocks." He deliberately desaturated one of his waterfall references so that we would have to create the colors of the scene from memory and artistic judgment.

Johannes also specificed "make the rocks a muted reddish orange color." Well, this painting came out great but this one doesn't fit the "muted" category. I started from the sky, shaded in that beautiful dawn-sky gradient with silhouetted early morning violet trees... and from that point I could not put the foreground rocks around the waterfall in a muted noon light color. I had to bring the same violet into their shadows and gild their upper surfaces with the dawn light.

So I love the painting but I might be doing another from this reference. There's no reason I can't do more than one version of the assignment and I love this scene. I might try it in watercolor or soft pastels next, no reason I can't try multiple mediums either.

One thing that I've found improves my art is to do a series with the same subject. Try it in a different medium, change the mood or time of day, do it in different sizes, vary it enough that I don't get bored but keep working from the same reference until I have an interesting group of paintings that all share a common subject. This is a fun waterfall so I might come back to it again this week.

Enjoy! Just like yesterday, the link leads to the listing in my Etsy shop.


  1. So much for muted colors. The first thing I thought of was energy. This painting has a lot of it. The rocks look great surrounded by the violet trees and blue water. Sometimes a painting doesn't turn out the way you planned, but you have a winner here, Rob.

  2. Thanks, Doug! I couldn't manage to tone them down. I'll probably just do another version before Saturday - or just let this stand for my homework as an example of how the light can trump the local colors.