Painting Whitewater

After working diligently in the studio on a very difficult perspective problem for the past few days, I stepped outside for some much-needed plein air painting.  I found painting whitewater at the Poudre River to be the perfect solution.

Whitewater, 8x12, oil on linen, © Nelia Harper
Whitewater, 8×12, oil on linen, © Nelia Harper

Apparently, I needed to unleash some pent-up color craze and fluidity.

My goal was to focus on color and abstract shape, thinking beyond rock and water, placing paint and leaving it untouched. Mix and place. Mix and place.  One of the greatest challenges of painting whitewater is seeing and understanding the changing color and placing it in the context of the big picture.  And, water isn’t actually white.  Water color is it?  What color is it in the shade?  In the sun?  Whitewater, with it’s eddies and foam and dips and swells fools the eye.  It rolls back on itself while constantly moving forward.

The color got a little crazy, as I dipped repeatedly into transparent oxide yellow.  Here it is, photographed on-site in full sun.  It looks more muted indoors.

Needless to say, I feel much better and ready to go back to fixing the perspective on the studio painting.

What do you think?

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