Waterfalls and rocks in watercolour

Waterfalls make marvellous subjects for the landscape painter, and are often close to the road, as is this one, the Ogwen Falls in Snowdonia, one of my favourites. As they are marked on Ordnance Survey maps of 1:50,000 scale they tend to be easy to find. These falls are spectacular, but rather complicated for the inexperienced artist, with so many rocks and separate cascades of tumbling water. You need to leave out many of these, keeping it simple by only including the most shapely and important rocks. If you go there after half a day of heavy rain most of these rocks will be submerged anyway.

Bear in mind that when painting waterfalls the secret is to create effective contrasts: those of hard-edged rocks sticking out of the water, or where the water tumbles behind them, and also the soft edges of falling water. The other type of strong contrasts is that of the white, aerated water crashing down beside the dark, wet rocks, but watch out for those rocks that escape the splashes and perhaps have a little colour to relieve the overall black and white effect. I always like to include some vegetation in a waterfall painting, as it breaks up the mass of rocks and cliffs, and can add a little colour to the scene.

This watercolour is featured in my exhibition currently taking place at Siop-y-Siswrn in Mold, a few leagues into North Wales to the west of Chester. It covers not just mountain scenery, but gentler pastoral landscapes and coastal scenes. The gallery is open every day except Thursday and Sunday, from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, at 6 – 8 New Street, Mold, Clwyd. The telephone number for Siop-y-Siswrn is 01352 753200

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