Learn how to paint a waterfall, step by step with oil paints.
Painting a waterfall is a piece of cake. It’s fun and easy and it only takes three steps for the waterfall.
The landscape is a little bit more, but we will do that too. The landscape will be as simple as possible, so we can get to the waterfall.
This painting was done on a 16x20 stretched canvas. But you can use any size canvas or panels. Stretched canvas is recommended for paintings we intend to keep. Canvas boards are good for practice paintings.
My paintings are done with Winsor and Newton Griffin alkyds. They handle just like oil paints, except they dry faster. The techniques used the same as oil painting.
Your brush size depends on the size of your painting surface. This painting used #4 and #6 flats, #2 filbert and a 1/2" angle brush.
Lemon Yellow, Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Red medium, Alizarin Crimson, Thalo Blue and Titanium White
It is advisable to do a value sketch on paper before starting any painting. After you get the values figured out, do a simple line sketch on the canvas.
Do your line sketch with paint that is thinned with a solvent. A yellow or Burnt Sienna will be easy to paint over later.
If you make a mistake, it is easy to rub off the line with a paper towel. A little solvent will take the line off completely.
You may notice some light pencil lines. The composition is based on the rule of thirds. The head of the waterfall comes out at the juncture of the top third lines.
Don't be concerned about painting smooth colors, just scrub them on. I actually used the flat side of the brush to cover the area faster.
Cover the entire canvas with the underpainting.
This gives us the placement of the elements. But more importantly, we want to see their value relationships.
Squint your eyes and notice the side of the cliff is fairly dark and the base is a darker yet. Notice the area behind the colored trees is darker than the trees.
This gives us the placement of the waterfall. It is not necessary to get down to pure white canvas. We just need the placement.
Take a break while the underpainting dries, probably 30 to 60 minutes.
We paint the sky first and then move to the closer items in the landscape.
This is my favorite way to paint a painting. It certainly is not the only way to paint, but it works for me.
Paint from the top down. The sky is darker at the top and it gets lighter toward the horizon. Paint the entire sky. There is no need to leave space for the clouds.
Paint in the tops of the clouds first. Clean and dry your brush. Use the clean brush and softly blend the white into the blue.
We want the clouds softer and darker than the waterfall. They are background. They should not be a distraction when we paint a waterfall.
Mix any cool, dark colors. Even though the cliff is mostly in shadow, it will still show different colors. A variation of colors is more interesting.
These dark colors are painted thin. That makes the next step easier. This applies not only when we paint a waterfall, but for any oil painting.
Remember "thin to thick" and "dark to light".
Paint in some thicker, light colors over the top of the thin, dark colors to indicate the rocky texture.
Paint the dark foliage colors first. The light is coming from the top, left.
Gently meld the colors together so there are not a lot of hard edges.
The straight lines were painted with a flat, angle brush. A script liner brush would work just as well. The small filbert brush was used for the various small leaves.
Paint a few branches throughout the upper foliage.
The foliage is finished, next we will do the lake and paint a waterfall.
It was a day for me. You don't have to stop, continue if you wish.
The yellows plus, Thalo Blue with some white make a nice variety of turquoise and greens.
Subdue the greens with a bit of red. Mixing green colors
After blending you will still see a variety of colors and a variety of darks and lights.
Use a small flat brush. Many people use a fan brush to paint a waterfall that will work, too
Use a very light touch. Position the bristles of the brush vertically, up and down.
Start at the top of the falls. As you stroke down the falls, gradually turn the brush horizontally, so the falls get wider. That makes is easy to paint a waterfall.
Notice, you can see the background through the thin paint.
This time, do not thin the paint. Remember "thick over thin".
Pull the highlight color with the same light motion from the top of the waterfall, down the left side of the falls.
Don't cover up all of the bluish, shadow part on the right side of the falls.
Paint some bluish shadow colors (not thinned) where the water is splashing up when it hits the lake.
Pull and paint the shadow colors out into the lake water.
Put some warm highlights on the splashing water. Paint a few warm highlights out into the lake. Soften the back edge of the highlights out in the water.