Archive for March, 2013

Painting water… one of the Four Elements

March 26, 2013
Mountain House, detail from a painting by Karen Gillis Taylor

Mountain House, detail from a painting by Karen Gillis Taylor

Water, fire, air and earth are the four elements according to some ancient peoples, I am told. Any part of our natural world can provide ideas for paintings, and here are some explorations about water. The above image shows one of my favorite properties of water, it’s often a mirror, which is one of nature’s tricks to captivate us.

Abstract waves crashing

Abstract waves crashing, detail from an earlier painting by Karen Gillis Taylor, acrylic

A second thing I love about painting water is that it’s almost always moving, either because of wind or tides. I love putting movement into a painting. Accomplish this with brush strokes, contrasting values and placement of shapes.

Watertown, detail, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48"

Watertown, detail, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48″

Water in cities often means it is tamed and meant to please everyone in that environment. In Watertown I am  painting the beauty of water people can enjoy in their familiar surroundings.

Watertown, detail 2, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48"

Watertown, detail 2, acrylic painting, by Karen Gillis Taylor, original 48 x 48″

When painting water I always try to place color from the surrounding areas within the body of water as if it is reflecting in small accent waves on the surface. It helps to unify the entire painting and create excitement.

Niwot Canal, off trail, photo by Karen Gillis Taylor

Niwot Canal, off trail, photo by Karen Gillis Taylor

I took this Niwot canal photo  for a painting reference on a summer bicycling morning around our town. The historic canal system built for farming snakes through the village and gives me a lot of opportunities to see mirroring and color in our tiny creeks.

Niwot Canal with overhanging tree, photo, Karen Gillis Taylor

Niwot Canal with overhanging tree, photo, Karen Gillis Taylor

This second canal image is a perfect painting opportunity for me. Lots of contrast, sparkle, great blues and inspiration in the tiny spots of warm colors I can develop into something greater in the spectrum. I will give myself plenty of room for interpretation in paint, but it is a good start to fire up the imagination!


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