I left a day early to attend a family reunion of sorts. My brother and some aunts and uncles and cousins meet once a year in South Pittsburg, Tennessee to travel around and see the sites where my father's family grew up.
I left a day early so that I would have some time to myself to go and paint. I did just that. Early Friday morning I got up and traveled the 20 minutes from my hotel to Foster Falls. This is a scenic location that requires a trek down a long, steep, wooded trail to the base of the falls. I made my way down the trail carrying my painting box in one hand and my camp chair on my shoulder and only fell once before I made it to the falls.
After dutifully staring at the falls and taking a few photos, I traveled back down the stream to look for a less stereotyped landscape design. I didn't want to do another waterfall painting. I decided on a mid-stream view looking back in the direction of the falls. I stepped from rock to rock and set my chair up in the middle of the stream on a large flat boulder. Then I began to work, starting with pencil.
And adding pen and color
As time passed, people started showing up on the nearby trail. They waved to me and some of them took pictures of me sitting there painting with my hat on and everything. I felt like a real artist.
I think I had been out there around 4 hours when I got to this stage. I packed it up and headed back up the trail to my hotel room where I worked on it some more.
So, this is how it looked when I got home with it. I kind of liked some parts of it, but I was aware that it was kind of flat looking with no clear center of interest. And I hated those little bunches of leaves in the background. They looked like swarms of bees or something.
Unfortunately I did not photograph each stage of my attempts to improve it, but here is what I did. I covered the whole thing with a dark gray-blue wash and then started wiping out highlights where I wanted the sun to peek through. It looked pretty dramatic for a while and I was hopeful. Then I added some gouache (opaque watercolor) with a sponge for the background leaves. When I finished, it looked pretty bad. The leaves were too much again and they didn't look like leaves. The water didn't look like water.
So, I covered up most of the leaves again and I painted all the water with white acrylic and then added some gray-blue shadows. So – I don't know if it is passable or not. You tell me. I am definitely open to honest criticism.
Looking at it now, there are some things about my earlier version that I like better. Oh well.
Here is the actual photo of the scene and here is my final painting: