I thought it might be fun to share some of what goes on in my head as I begin a painting.
From the first idea and sketch I liked the composition, and never having done a waterfall before, I liked the challenge.
First, I am going larger on this one right from the start (24"x30") to avoid any comments from the gang of four. My progress at this point is merely transfering my drawing and washing in some Burnt Sienna for a nice warm undertone. As I begin, I am thinking more about the future of the painting than about anything being right or wrong. In other words, how well can I pull out the patterns of lights and darks? How dark should the darks be? How bright will the water be?... And how on earth do I make water look sparkly without looking frozen?... What have I gotten myself into???? ( Sorry, this last thought is what can happen when you think too much and forget about enjoying the process)
Next, I sit back and try to remember what it looked like standing there in the deep woods. What did it look like in the shadows? What did the sun light look like bounce off the water? This is where color studies come in handy, to trigger those memories.
I have stuck with only the Burt Sienna at this point. Going darker and searching for those interesting patterns. I also remind myself, when I begin, to start in the back and work forward. Then a very important point...
Step back from the painting and give it some thought.
The center of interest is the waterfall. This is the star of the show, so I need to make sure she gets all the attention. All the other elements should play a supportive role....Plus, being a little lazy and unsure of myself, I don't want to do a lot of work in the background if I can't be sure how effectively I can paint the water...( honestly, these thoughts pop in my head!)
So, here I have started using some Burnt Umber and some White to see if I can capture enough of the spirit of the water. This is one of the steps in the painting process I enjoy most, because this is where I engage that creative part of myself, the little boy part. I start using more imagination with the choices of brush strokes and tone. I pretend a lot about walking in the woods and seeing and hearing this waterfall. It really is just play! ...
Of course, I have to be careful to only allow myself to imagine the scene I am painting. Other wise I may drift off and start picturing myself in another scene.
Being an artist is all about focus!