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.

Creating a strikingly moody landscape in watercolour

The combination of a striking centre of interest with a soft, misty background can be a powerful recipe for a stunning composition. To achieve this is it hard to beat the combination of masking fluid and the wet-into-wet watercolour technique. In producing a strong contrast between the soft, ethereal misty background and the hard-edged focal point you will be creating a really head-turning image.

Hisley bridgeThis watercolour of Hisley Bridge on the edge of Dartmoor illustrates the effectiveness of painting masking fluid over the bridge before doing any painting, then applying very fluid washes wet-into-wet for the background, bringing the wash down over the bridge with impunity, as you can lift off the masking fluid once it has dried and hey presto! the bridge appears again. The sense of mood has been accentuated by limiting the background colours in the wet-into-wet wash, with warmer colours being applied in the bridge and foreground.
  If you are interested in this particular scene there is a stage-by-stage demonstration of the painting in my book Painting Wild Landscapes in Watercolour, published by HarperCollins, and for more information see my website.
On Friday 7th June I shall be demonstrating at Patchings Art & Craft Festival, in the St Cuthberts Mill marquee at 11am, and the Search Press marquee at 3pm, then again on Saturday morning at 11 am in the St Cuthberts Mill marquee. On each occasion I’ll be using the marvellous Saunders Waterford High White paper manufactured by St Cuthberts Mill, with whom I’ve worked for a great many years now. You can take it from me that when you are demonstrating you have to have total faith in the paper, and Waterford has never let me down.
Sadly Jenny won’t be at Patchings this time as she has not been well. It’s a great disappointment  as she loves demonstrating at the festival, but hopefully she’ll be back in action at next year’s event.