David Bellamy – Adding a sense of mystery to a waterfall painting

Waterfalls are popular subjects in a painting, and I’ve had a great many exciting moments sketching them, climbing them and abseiling down them, including ones underground where they really give you that “Hey-ho, here we go, but what’s at the bottom?” sort of feeling. Having the Brecon Beacons close by is an added bonus as there are more waterfalls per square inch there than anywhere else in the country.

    It is fairly easy to find waterfalls as they are usually marked on walkers’ maps, and if they have a name then you can Google them to get access information and a pretty good idea of what you can expect as descriptions are often accompanied by photographs. In this watercolour I used the excellent Saunders Waterford 300lb rough paper and increased the roughness even further in places where more rock textures were to appear by glueing thin Oriental papers in place.

My aim was to create a sense of mystery in the background using the wet-into-wet technique to blend the furthest rock and tree shapes into the misty background, then when this was dry painting harder shapes to suggest distance. The upper falls emerges from out of this atmospheric backdrop and for the falling water I leave the paper untouched so that it stands out in strong contrast to the darker sides, and especially the hard-edged rocks jutting out.

I shall be demonstrating waterfalls in watercolour at the Sandpiper Studio at Ledsham on the Wirral at the end of the month. As the first demonstration was so popular and filled up quickly, we have added another on Friday 28th October from 2pm to 4.30pm, and there are still a few places left on this one. Further details and bookings can be obtained from Julie McLean on 07788 412480  or Email her on iinfo@thesandpiperstudio.co.uk The two demonstrations will be of different waterfalls, and if you have lots of questions then bring them along! I will also be using the Daniel Smith watercolour range with their exciting colours. No abseiling is involved.

David Bellamy – Injecting a sense of atmosphere into your paintings

If you really want to give your landscape paintings a boost one of the most effective methods is to inject a strong dose of atmosphere into the scene. Unfortunately most of the time when you sketch or photograph a subject there may not be much by way of atmosphere, so in many cases you need to inject it into quite an ordinary scene. With time and experience this becomes easier.
 In this view of the Teign estuary in Devon you can barely see the distant Dartmoor ridges, and even then they become lost in the atmosphere at the extremities. To achieve this sense of mood and distance I have used the same wash for the ridges as I have for the lower sky area. Keeping most of the edges softened also helps create mood, as does a very limited palette. There is hardly any detail in any of the background trees and promontory, and even the centre of interest – the cottage with its attendant trees has little extra colour.

This painting is part of my forthcoming exhibition Shorelines and Summits at Lincoln Joyce Fine Art, 40 Church Road, Great Bookham Surrey, KT23 3PW – telephone 01372 458481  Their website is www.artgalleries.uk.com  The exhibition runs from 28th October to 7th November. Both the coastal and mountain scenes include strong atmospheric effects in most cases.

There are still places available at my seminar which takes place from 10 am to 3 pm on 28th October in the Old Barn Hall opposite the gallery, so you can also view the exhibition. Tickets are available from the gallery or Clockwork Penguin or telephone 01982 560237 The seminar comprises a watercolour landscape demonstration and an illustrated talk, both covering how to include animals and wildlife in your paintings – and, of course, lots of atmosphere, and you will have the opportunity of asking questions. I hope to see you there.

Painting reflections in still water

Ongoing at the moment is an exhibition of watercolours and pastels by Jenny Keal and myself at the Wyeside Arts Centre in Builth Wells, Powys. It covers a wide range of landscape subjects, plus a number of flower paintings, and at the moment the opening hours are mainly in the evenings when the venue is open for showing films, from 5.30 pm to 9 pm. For further information and to check opening times telephone 01982 552555

One of the watercolours on show at Wyeside is this one of Garreg-Ddu reservoir in the Elan Valley, viewed from high up on a hill. The painting illustrates well the impact of keeping reflections simple. This effect was carried out by liberally wetting the lake area with clean water, then washing in a light tone of blue-grey to suggest the general reflections of the hillsides. Then with a stronger mixture of the same colour, and hardly any water on the fine brush, the reflection shapes of the trees was painted into the still-wet surface, creating a lovely soft effect.

I then took a small flat brush and while the surface remained damp I pulled out the light reflection of the light crag, just to the immediate left of the dark reflection of the conifers. Full mirror-like reflections in still water lose their attraction because they become so detailed, so remember to keep them simple! You can see this painting in my book David Bellamy’s Mountains & Moorlands in Watercolour, and signed copies are available from our website