Thoughts on Thursday

Waterfall Painting

A couple of weeks ago I started to describe how I went about the Waterfall Painting which I did as a commission this Summer.  In the last blog I described how I prepared for and approached the Underpainting; the fact that I used Quinacridone Gold as an overall base colour to unify both the blues within the water and the Autumn colours on the tree.  I will now discuss the next steps in this painting, taking my Waterfall Painting through to completion.

Tree Trunks

The transparent trunk layers on both trees
First Trunk Layers

On the main tree I worked in glazes. Here you can see how transparent the paint is. Using various colours including burnt sienna and quinacridone gold I gradually built these layers up. Picking out dark tones in the main trunk I represented tree roots and marks on the bark.  Note the hole in the tree where you can see the water behind.

The silver birch trunk is not focal and I initially worked on texture. This is not finished it is standing out too much, I do not want it to detract from the focal areas.

Further layers of bark and more leaves and sky
Waterfall Painting – Bark Layers and Sky

I continued to build up layers of glaze. I have started to put in a few leaves and some froth at the bottom of the waterfall to get my bearings for tonal value. In the second photograph I am building up the texture on the bark, and starting to put in some darks and lights within the leaf area.  I have also added some sky.

Black and White image to check for Tonal Value
Waterfall – Black and White Tonal Check

After this I checked my tonal values by taking a black and white photograph.  I aimed for the darkest and lightest values to be around the waterfall.  At this point my waterfall was still yellow!


Close up of the Waterfall itself showing the palette knife marks
Waterfall – Close Up

Here we are after adding the waterfall by using a palette knife in long downward strokes. I have used white and the blues that I used within the water. You would have to look closely but there is still some of the underlying background showing through.

Leaves, Branches, Twigs and More Leaves

Close up of Leaves and Branches on the Waterfall Painting
Close up of Leaves and Branches

The next stage was to work on the right hand tree. Many layers of leaves and branches were incorporated.  I worked on the water, creating balance through lightening it and ensuring that the hole in the tree showed water the same colour both sides.

I adjusted sky colour following a review of this painting and those it was due to hang with.

Then more leaves…

And finally a few more touches of glazed colour from the water onto the waterfall before adding the edges of the leaves.


Final Waterfall Painting - 16 x 32 inches
Completed Waterfall Painting – 16″ x 32″

A final review and some minor changes; more leaves to fill holes and the finished result was achieved.

Following this photograph, taken by Richard Giles, photographer, I painted an isolation coat and used a Solvent Satin Varnish as a top coat.

I hope you have enjoyed these two step by step blogs describing how I approached this painting.

Thank you to Lisa and Trevor for their kind permission to do this blog. It was a pleasure to review this painting with you and I hope you have enjoyed the blog, the commissioning process and of course the painting itself.

I plan to do more of this type of blog in the future, let me know if you have enjoyed it in the comments below.








Thoughts on Thursday – Completing the Waterfall Painting

One thought on “Thoughts on Thursday – Completing the Waterfall Painting

  • December 13, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Thanks for showing your step by step. Found it very enlightening.


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