To paint the base color of the water in this painting, I mixed brown into some yellowish green that I already had on my palette. I wanted the water to have a clear yellowish cast, but also appear murky.
Painting the base of the water was pretty easy. The difficulty came when I had to paint the shadows on the water. I knew I needed a color that was much darker than the base. While I mixed black into the base color, it wasn’t nearly dark enough.
I struggled with it a bit more, even trying brown, which turned out to be totally wrong. At this point, my work day was done, so I put the painting aside for the night and told myself I wouldn’t worry about it until the next day.
Fast forward to the next day and I’m looking at the photo again with fresh eyes. I see the tiniest hint of blue in the shadows on the water, so I decide to mix ultramarine into my mixture already had on my palette. From the first stroke, I knew this color would give me the dark, intense shadows I was looking for.
I should mention that I did all of what’s described above using the wet-on-wet technique. I wanted there to be no defined edges on the shadows, but for them to blend seamlessly into the rest of the water.
To paint the water in the acrylic version of this painting, I mixed yellow and purple together and then blue and orange. Mixing the orangey blue into the purplish yellow, I used this to paint the base color. I painted in light layers over my underpainting.
Needless to say, figuring out how to mix the color for the shadows was much easier this time, since I’d learned my lesson from my experience with the watercolor painting. The challenge this time is going to be coming up with enough layers to make the color show. As of the time of writing this, I’ve put at least five layers on these parts and they still look gray.
Now that I've thought about it a bit more, I also want to add more layers to the background color, this time probably with some brown mixed in. I think it's a bit too bright as it is. I also think this will build up color on the shadows and make it easier for the color I'm adding over them to show up.
At this point, I've painted three layers of green over the water, plus a layer of yellow. It was that last layer that warmed up the shadows enough that I was able to have color start showing on them, which I had been struggling with.
After that, I still wasn't happy with how the water was looking. I realized it was because it was too light. I added some darker, brownish midtone shadows to it and when I did, the yellowish green I already had down seemed to almost glow.
The rims of green you see around the shadows is my attempt at creating softer edges around them. First I painted around them with titanium white so the color would show, then I went over them with the color you see. My hope is by blending out the edges of these rims, I can get more of the soft fuzzy look I'm going for.
I think to really get the look I wanted out of this, I would have to do what's called wet-into-wet blending, which is where you blend two colors together while both are still wet. 'Pretty self-explanatory. For acrylics, this requires the use of an airbrush to mist water to keep the paint wet long enough.
Painter of portraits and wildlife