These are recent paintings of waterfalls from my 2013 summer trip to Maine. I find painting water……especially moving water interesting, fun and difficult. It is a tricky subject, and one of the more difficult to paint. Of course, I can only speak for myself. The difficulty is in capturing the feeling of movement, or eminent movement. It is in a way similar to painting other subjects that have the capability of movement, like eyes or mouths in a portrait, or head study. Everything else on the face is relatively stationary and doesn’t move. If the eyes and mouth are painted in a rigid or hard manner…..with a hard line through, or around them, it eliminates the feeling that they might move at any moment…..something that is commonly seen in students work. There should be an appropriate softness in the eyes and lips. It’s the same thing with water. Often, one sees paintings of moving, or splashing water painted with every little droplet depicted as frozen in mid air…..looking more like the photo that it was painted from than it should. Reference photos of water subjects should be used for interpreting, and not copying verbatim…..in my opinion.
"Cascading Falls", 18x24 oil on linen
"Acadia Falls", 16x12 oil on linen
Anyway, that is what I consider when painting water subjects. I'm not always successfully, but it is always my intent from the beginning to make it seem as animated as possible. It always comes back to observation skills and the ability to interpret what one sees. This is ultimately more important than knowing the subject…..of course, that is always helpful, but if knowledge alone is used……there is the possibility of it becoming a formula, or every thing looking the same. Paint what you see, not what you know…..I heard or read something to that effect once. I think it’s valid, but I might prefer interpret what you see……be it from life or from photo reference. Again, these are my personal thoughts and opinion on this subject and may not reflect any universal ideas about this. Until next time, thanks for listening to my ramblings.