I find painting water one of the most challenging things about landscape painting. It beats painting clouds, trees, grass and even rocks. All of those have a greater fudge factor, but water is like painting skin on a portrait. It needs to feel alive at the same time it has to have depth and movement ( maybe tension is a better word) even when it is on a still surface.
Take a look at these three progress shots. You may have to look to find the differences but after two weeks I had hope to make more progress.
I love this water. I should clarify, actually, I love the potential of this water. This water has me painting and repainting, tweaking and standing back, squinting and squirming over and over and over. I am a little afraid of over painting because I need to keep the water looking fresh and clean...( who likes to look at muddy water?)
click on the image to enlarge the painting
Back to the Northwoods
(painting in progress)
Here's the problem I am working on: The texture of the floating water lilies and algae is so very different from the surface texture of the water. It needs to look as if it is floating. If that isn't hard enough to paint , I put the foreground in shadow and the light cutting across the background with lots of color in the reflections. (Who thought of this painting?) This was supposed to be an easy one. What is the lesson we should all learn from this?
The next time you go to a gallery and look at a really beautifully painted landscape with a very soothing and tranquil body of water in it...
say a prayer for the artist.