Illo Friday “Clear” – Wild Stream


“Wild Stream”
7.5″ x 11″ Watercolor on 140# paper

Clean, clear, water – what a precious resource. Can anything match it for clarity and freshness?

I did this painting today just for fun for some water practice, using a very limited palette of two blues, a red and a yellow. That’s about it. Oh, and a little gouache white for some ripples here and there. The Angeles Crest forest above La Canada is just full of places like this.

I don’t think there’s any way to paint wild water in a quiet, contemplative way. For me, it’s necessary to be a little bit excited about the subject matter and to paint quickly and almost impulsively, even though that usually means making a lot of mistakes. The vitality of the water flow is communicated by the energy of the brushstrokes.

(My watermark and blogaddress is not in the painting – only in the scan.)


  1. Wendee
    November 8, 2006

    Oooo! Just wonderful! I love the little back-splashes against the rocks in the middle of the stream! Ahhhhhh :)

  2. Pamela
    November 8, 2006

    water is moving!!!

  3. Tami
    November 9, 2006

    This is excellent, Karen! My DH looked over my shoulder when I popped this open, and said, “Wow, is that a painting, I thought it was a photograph. She really captured the rushing water!”.

  4. lin
    November 9, 2006


  5. TeriC
    November 9, 2006

    Oh, I just love this one!!! It has so much movement and wonderful color.

  6. Carolynk
    November 11, 2006

    This looks so cool. It is full of energy too. I wish I knew how to paint moving water

  7. Karen
    November 15, 2006

    Thanks, all . Carolyn – I’d suggest looking at the watercolors of Sargent, among others. You can just see how the brushstrokes are made in the direction of the flow, leaving white for the glint and darker colors for the shadowed area. The trick seems to be to paint very quickly, emulating in a way, the rapid flow of the water.

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