October 25, 2015

A Review about Painting Water

Painting All Aspects of Water for all Mediums by: E. John Robinson  (available at the Sandy Library)

I’ve only just begun to read the first chapter in this book and I have already fallen in love with the author.  He’s very knowledgeable in the characteristics of water and how it behaves.  I will share with you a few things I have learned about water that I can relate to even though I never studied the qualities of water.

1.      Water is always level on the ground.  It can be diagonal, or vertical in appearance if it is a waterfall or rain runoff.
2.      Water changes it’s physical shape to fit into certain spaces.
3.      Water is a reflecting agent much like a mirror or sheet of glass
4.      Water is often transparent and it can move with gravity
5.      Shallow water of a lake is more transparent than deeper waters of an ocean
6.      The surface of the water reflects a path of light that:  ALWAYS comes towards the viewer.  If it goes off in another direction, it leads the viewer’s eye right out of the painting.
7.      It reflects the colors above and below it depending on how shallow it is
8.      A mirror image reflection:
a.       Carries the colors, values and shapes of the objects it is reflecting
b.      If the object, such as a rock, is slanted, the reflection can be refracted into a different direction
c.       The size of the object equals the reflection on the water, however, you do not measure the objects reflection from the bank of a river, but from the base of the object itself, towards the water.  i.e. a tree measures from the base to the top=3”, the reflection will measure 3” from the base of the object down into the water.  Which basically means; you may only see 1” of the objects reflection.  The other 2” maybe a shadow or nothing at all.
d.      The reflection should be an exact duplicate of the object if the water is completely smooth
9.      A slanted object, such as the hull of a ship, reflects in the opposite direction, but moves towards the viewer.  The water “sees” more of the hull than the viewer, so the reflection will be extended and have more details than what the viewer sees from above.
10.  Rippling water distorts the reflection but is measured exactly the same as “C” above.  However, the refection will be quite different in appearance.  Edges of the reflections become wavy and darker values can begin to mingle with lighter ones.  Strong ripples introduce only the sky and background colors, very little, if any detail.
11.  Extended Reflections or bouncing, choppy water reflections caused by waves in the water, will bounce the reflection on top of the water, but introduce darker sky colors between the waves.  Here the darker values and lighter values can completely reverse or be together creating more interest.
12.  Choppy waters may be in isolated locations or over the entire painting creating lost and found edges which allow the sky color or colors from below the water to mingle, depending on the depth of the water.
13.  The color of an object is nearly identical to the reflection if the water is smooth.  Choppy water can distort the colors quite a bit.  i.e. white becomes a faded, soft yellow in appearance. 
14.  Scattered light dancing over the water creates interest, but a glare is when a wave reflects intense light directly into the viewer’s eye.  It is a concentration of light, not sparkles dancing.  i.e. larger white areas versus a splattered effect.  Reserve white areas to suggest the movement of water in shallower waters.  Especially around rocks, where the water moves in and out and around the base of the rocks.
15.  Water holds the reflected shadows of an object, directly below the object such as boulders and fallen tree trunks.  

Most of this information we already know from experience, but when listed like this, it refreshes our memories.  Hope these notes help you with your painting water in the future.  I will add more notes as I continue reading this wonderful book.  

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