The 5th layer of streams with rapids |

The 5th layer of streams with rapids

Earlier I made the statement that I think there 4 layers in a painting of water with rapids, but I was just looking over a painting from the series and I think a 5th layer might be worthy of it's own category - underwater reflected light from air bubbles.  This would make the list:

  1. Stream bottom (underwater rocks)
  2. Reflected/refracted light from underwater bubbles
  3. Water surface
  4. Reflections on water's surface
  5. Bubbles/foam on top of water's surface

You can see this near white water where bubbles are forced under the surface and often vivid greens are apparent (from the sunlight (yellow) mixed with the blues of the water).

This is definitely going to take some time to master ...


Timon, I'm enjoying all your explorations into moving water and rocks! Lovely work you're doing here. I particularly like the colors you've chosen throughout--rich, realistic jewel tones. Years ago Doug Dawson theorized that as you paint this sort of scene it pays to work from bottom to top. He began with anything you see on the bottom, such as colorful rocks, dark mud, weeds, etc., including the shadows cast by strong sunlight through the water. Then he went on to paint the water, including the reflections, sparkles, or shadows crossing it, and finally added anything on top, such as bubbles, floating leaves, a boat or foam churned up by the water's movement. I can see from your observations that you agree with him and I like your addition of the light conditions through the bubbles in mid-water. Very interesting!I've done a lot of study of this subject, too, and I find one of the things that influences the outcome is the quality of the daylight. Mid-day light levels make for high contrast that's pleasing, but I find that this also bleaches color from light areas and drains color from dark areas (although insistence on seeing/using the colors in those areas is possible.) However, at sundown as the light achieves a strong raking angle, the color possibilities are heightened. The problem is the fleeting light, of course, when painting on location, but with observation I've started to catch it... sometimes. True, the shadows can be inky at such a time, but that sparkling, glowing last light can be very exciting.I'll be watching your progress.

Great job on your studies of a difficult subject. I also enjoyed seeing my old stomping grounds.

Deborah - great comments. Thanks.Speaking of lighting, one thing I ran up against is that streams tend to be in heavily wooded areas. This makes low light conditions particularly challenging in that the light is coming through sky holes and is moving dramatically minute-by-minute.Now that I've got the bug I have to find more running water here in Northern California. Not so easy unless I head up into the Sierras.

Carolyn - thanks so much. By 'old stomping grounds' are you talking about PA?

Timon - I grew up in Redwood City and then Belmont, later I lived in Campbell and San Jose. I also lived in Marin County for a time. There is a lot of open space to explore on the Peninsula. If I still lived there I would join up with POPS who meet 2 times a week for paint-outs.

Carolyn - I paint with POPs fairly frequently. This is indeed a fantastic place to live as a plein air painter. There's lots of diversity between the valley and the coast. But even with all this wonderful landscape I long for the things I don't have (streams and snow).Any good groups of plein air painters near you in Reno or around Lake Tahoe?