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How to Paint a Waterfall With Watercolors

Watercolor is a paint medium that uses paint pigments in a water-soluble base, allowing for a variety of blending techniques using only paint and water. For this reason, watercolor gives a highly transparent appearance that makes it ideal for creating subject matter that includes water. With a few simple tools and some patience, even a beginner can take advantage of the medium to create a waterfall painting worthy of display.

Sketch the elements and composition of your waterfall first. Use paper specifically for watercolor, which you can find at a hobby shop or purchase online. Draw the outline of the water running from top to bottom on your page, then sketch a few roughly rounded boulders running along each side of the water path. Sketch in random tree branches along the path of the boulders to add to the atmosphere. Keep the sketching light so you will be able to cover it with your paint.

Load a flat brush with light blue and work the color over the area that will be your waterfall. Let the paint dry (it will dry quickly) and then go over it again with the same color, building a texture for the water. Apply the paint in graded washes, beginning with a heavier, darker application at the top and lighter applications as you go. This will add a variation in color to your waterfall.

Paint the boulders with a mix of gray and Chinese white. Apply the white first, as a base to help take away some of the transparency of the color for the boulders. This will give a nice contrast to the water portion of your painting. Apply the white and gray with a flat brush.

Fill in the branches that extend over the waterfall with your watercolors. Use a filbert brush, which is a flat brush with a more pointed tip. This allows you to sharpen the lines of your branches to give a dimensional contrast to the water and boulders.

Paint the crash of the water at the base of your waterfall with a flat brush for texture. Apply some blue paint as a base. Build it with two or three layers, then use the same flat brush to add some white to create a foamy appearance. Apply the white in strokes that come toward you, then curl up. Don't overpaint. Allow some of the blue to show through.

About the Author

Carl Hose is the author of the anthology "Dead Horizon" and the the zombie novella "Dead Rising." His work has appeared in "Cold Storage," "Butcher Knives and Body Counts," "Writer's Journal," and "Lighthouse Digest.". He is editor of the "Dark Light" anthology to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities.