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Painting water in a picture is easy if the artist can relax and let his/her imagination determine the style or personality which is in harmony with the other elements, and the disposition of the painting. Sometimes tiny details of reflections and shadows are required to create waves, splashes and swift currents in order to show the desired movement or stillness of either oceans, rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Rushing streams, babbling brooks and smooth, mirror-like moving waters need different degrees of lights and darks with the proper brush strokes in order to produce the desired effect. One usually thinks of the color blue when painting water, but water is not always blue. The color of water reflects not only blue of the sky, but also the different colors of objects beyond the water. Sometimes, it requires very dark, even softened black, to create water. Unclear, rather mingled uneven edges of the reflections are useful in slow running creeks or streams. Brush strokes are important in producing the proper amount of splashing, gushing waters, and as water is pushed upward, it catches more sunlight. Where there is light, there most likely will be shadows below or behind splashes. Still, the technique used to paint water should be in one’s own abilities and the way he sees it, which can be concentrated and complicated, or quite simple with few strokes of paint making suggestions and hints of water.
The mood and style of the composition will determine how one applies paint to areas where water appears. It can be done with simple strokes of blue or green (or any color) with ripples of pure white. It could demand the use of intricately detailed strokes of many colors. One of my own favorite (and most fun) seascapes which I call, “Pacific”, was done with small dabs and dots of several pure colors, slightly thinned in order to have edges of the dabs blend together. It was time consuming and required more planning and concentration than I usually wish to put into a painting. However, it is one in which I found immense pleasure and satisfaction of accomplishment.
My philosophy remains, even after majoring in art, art education, and art for the emotionally disturbed, and after studying the paintings at the Louvre in Paris, France, is: If it is not fun, it is not worth MY efforts. Too much concern becomes strife, and there is no room for strife in my world of painting. There is enough of that in real life. While strife and problem giants can bring out certain emotions that can be expressed in one’s art work, I wish for the process of expressing that emotion to be a joyful experience. This does not mean I have too little concern for what I am doing, because that can (though not always) be a waste of time and paint. “as idle as a painted upon a painted ocean.” If I take this phrase, from the “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, out of context, it brings a quite lovely and calming picture to my mind. In the rush and push of today’s world, I think it might be quite nice to be away on such a ship, such stilled ocean, at least for a few hours. For one of my nephews, Kevin Moody, I painted a seascape and included with it a statement (which often do), quoting some words from, “No Man is an Island”, but don’t you sometimes wish you were! There you could sit and watch the troubles of life sail past and rest in the sunshine, undisturbed by turbulence. Enjoy the solitude you find in painting your experiences, regardless of the turmoil which might be involved within the framework of your painting, or in your life.