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Why should waterfalls be so hard?

I’ve been fascinated by water for years: water flowing around rocks in a stream, waves and ocean currents, foamy water alongside a boat … and ever since my trip to Victoria Falls in Africa in 2019 … waterfalls. But none of my waterfall paintings are satisfying to me. The effects I want continue to elude me. Why should waterfalls be so hard?

I started with a fairly representational painting of Victoria Falls in 2020:

Victoria Falls 2020 Acrylic on raw canvas 20×14

Next came a bigger painting of Victoria Falls, more abstract, just focusing on the movement of the water itself. Fortunately or unfortunately, I never took a picture of it and it has undergone several iterations since then. It’s still not finished.

Then I decided to test some different techniques in smaller paintings, just to see what might work. In one, I put the rocks down first using a palette knife and molding paste, then added the “water.”

Falling 2022 18×14

That didn’t quite do it. It wasn’t clear if it were snow or water.

So I tried again, and this time it looks more like Victoria Falls, more powerful, but still not abstracted enough, still not what I wanted.

Thunder 2022 18×14

So I decided to try to really paint a more abstracted waterfall, more like the beautiful ones I saw in Iceland. Having used most of my creativity for the painting itself, I simply called it Falling Water.

Falling Water 2022 20×20

This is much better, but still no cigar.

And, of course, the 3rd (but not final) version of my 2020 waterfall painting is still sitting on the rack at the Art Students League waiting for me to finish it. One of these days (months? years?) I’ll know how to do that.

In the meantime, I don’t have the answer to my original question: Why should waterfalls be so hard? (shrug) They just are.

Posted by ruthhurd on March 21, 2022

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