Waterfall Study In Watercolor

Techniques For Fast Moving Water, Whitewater and Spray

Learn how to use two techniques to create the look of fast moving ‘whitewater’ and the spray that results when fast water strikes solid objects.

This lesson shows how to use the most basic watercolor painting techniques to create the look of fast moving, ‘whitewater’ in your paintings. The key to the right look is in the textures.  It can be surprising to learn that whitewater has a lot of rough texture. The energy and action of fast water agitates the water, splashing and splattering it while mixing it with air. The splashing and splattering is where the ‘rough’ texture comes in.

Foam is a result of mixing air and water into ‘whitewater’. Spray happens when fast water contacts some unmoving object like rocks or shore or even the water in a pool at the bottom of a fall.  Both spray and foam are soft-textured.

Both of these textures are easy to create and rely on basic techniques used with a little skill and dexterity. Both can be developed working with simple studies like the one in this lesson.

What You’ll Learn

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to use two basic techniques to depict fast-moving whitewater and the spray created by the action of the water when reacts with wind, rocks and other energies.  The lesson includes specific instruction in these areas

  • Rough texture – to create edges that depict flying spray and water
  • Soft texture – to depict the soft look of spray and mist
  • Side-brush stroke – using the side of the brush with a light touch; this is especially effective for creating controlled rough edges
  • Direction of stroke – movement is supported when brush strokes follow the direction and path of the subject

Watercolor Techniques and Ideas Used

This lesson is based on two basic watercolor techniques and

  • Dry-Brush (FREE Lesson) – or rough-brush technique is effective at creating rough textures. Combined with proper Direction of Stroke, rough texture is effective at depicting a range of light effects, subjects, surfaces and more. This is an ESSENTIAL technique for any watercolor artist.
  • Wet-In-Wet (FREE Lesson) – this basic technique is key to creating soft textures that create the look of spray and mist
  • Side-brush stroke – using the side of the brush with a light touch; this is especially effective for creating controlled rough edges
  • Direction of stroke – movement is supported when brush strokes follow the direction and path of the subject

What You’ll Need:

    • Paint – Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Yellow
    • Brushes – Medium and Small Rounds
    • Paper – A small sheet of 140lb Cold Press Paper; Arches 140lb Cold Press is recommended

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