By Armand Cabrera
Since moving to Virginia two years ago this has become one of my favorite painting spots. The falls are spectacular any time of year and always make challenging subject matter.
Because of the angle of the sun I painted this 11×14 panel in full sunlight. Although this can be tricky for some I believe as long as you keep your palette and painting in the sun and you carefully measure the value relationships between objects you shouldn’t have any problems.
My palette for this painting consists of Viridian, Cobalt Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin,
Cadmium Red, Light Cadmium Yellow, Hansa Yellow and Utrecht White This is the largest palette I use and I felt it necessary to capture the water and rocks in all their color.
With a number 8 flat bristle brush I start with a horizontal line to establish the base of the falls and quickly begin to place the major shapes of the painting checking for relative size as I go.
Once I am satisfied I have the elements correctly I mass in an average tone for each shape according to color and value At this point the paint is still relatively thin.
I start building form out of my shapes looking for hue and temperature changes. I also loosely establish the wave patterns for the rushing water as it leaves the falls.
The rocks to the left of the falls are in direct sunlight with almost no shadows so I describe their form with color changes. I refine other elements as I go trying not to focus on one area because of the light changing.
I have switched to a number 6 flat brush and continue to refine areas. After watching the water I get a sense of its rhythm and paint what I think are the elements that capture the movement. I paint the sky and trees behind the falls keeping them simple so they don’t distract from the scene.
At the very last I use a number 4 b flat brush and add accents where I think
appropriate. I also take my big brush and refine the rocks with a more
careful observation and rework a couple of the waves with more definition.
While I was wrapping up my picture these two kayakers came over the falls.
I Thought I would include it because it gives you a sense of scale of the scene.
You can see the second kayak to the left in the pool above the falls.
Both men made it with no problem.
The finished painting Winter Great Falls 11×14 oil on linen on birch board. My painting time from start to finish is an hour and ten minutes.