Going through deleting old photos to clear up space and came across some of my paintings in progress. I started painted Whitewater Roar in a small group art class. I chose what I wanted to paint, based on a photograph I had taken of the Huka Falls, New Zealand. A professional artist gave me some tips as I painted (other students worked on paintings of their choice), then I finished it at home.
This was the final painting, acrylic on canvas. Will upload beneath it some of the layers underneath. I like acrylics as they dry fast (unlike oils) so can be ready quickly for a new layer. Plus there are no toxic solvent fumes.
This is my first ever attempt to paint this waterfall. It really does look aqua and turquoise with white foam. It was exhibited in my second solo art as therapy exhibition.
Initial layers can be messy - I was getting rid of the white canvas and putting down some foundation colours. There is no one right way to do this. I decided to go with turquoise.
I wasn't trying to paint the water 'exactly' like the photo. More like create movement. I had applied some laters to the background rock and folliage but wanted most of my focus to be the water. I was painting how I felt going through a mood crash with bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) combined. I like to paint metaphor.
None of this is pure white - is all light tints of turquoise so far. Doing the general shapes I could see, plus the spray. This is in good natural light (the professional artist's studio).
This is now in the less than ideal artifical light of my room. Distorts and dulls the colours. Added some glazes for shadows in the water. Some tips to help see tone is to take a photo of your painting and set that plus the reference photo to greyscale (desaturate). This makes it easier to see the contrast.
Playing around with glazes of shadows with more opaque pale layers. For glazes, I mixed a little pigment with clear gel medium. For the paler layers, I mixed with white. I started working on the foreground layers when the water was more or less how I wanted, painting in the patterns I saw - in general, not trying to copy the reference photos exactly. Water is moving, so don't want it looking static.
I exaggerated some darker shadow glazes to provide more contrast. Going back and forth with shadows and whitewater.
I looked online for some references for scale and shape and added a kayaker. The little people represent my psychiatrist and mental health nurse watching me, as the kayaker go down the powerful waterfall on my own. It is a very dangerous waterfall to kayak. I added highlights to the trees in the foreground. There will have only been touches of pure white where I wanted the focus. Adding the kayaker was an improvised decision.
In the natural light, the colours are brighter and more vibrant. It was always a surprise to see what the final painting looked like as I painted in my bedroom with artificial light.
Xanthe finds creative expression including writing and painting to be therapeutic and helps her to manage her diagnoses of bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).