View Full Version : River Run WIP/Demo

03-15-2008, 01:43 PM
Hi all,

It's been a while since I bothered posting my steps... my last one someone commented that the demo step was much better than the finished painting and I got depressed. (Actually, he was right!!) But I'm over that now and I know how much I enjoy seeing the process when others post their demos. Plus I realise HOW much I've learned from all of you out there (too many names to list, but you know who you are!), and I'm sure there are lurkers that are too shy to post (like I was) who will appreciate some help.

This is the ref photo, North Platte River in southern Wyoming:


LOTS of high contrast, a challenge for me with all the different values going on, between the far hills and the rocks/riffle in the foreground.

Started with a sketch - 16 x 12 on Wallis Museum:


Just outlining the important features.

Step 2:


Put in the sky using the same blues that will eventually be in the river. A little bit of work on the far hillside. Started blocking in my darkest darks and beginning to wish I had done an underpainting to get rid of all that WHITE!

Step 3:


Got rid of the white background, working in mid values, putting in the tree reflections, blocking out the rocks in the foreground. Right about now things are looking like a mess...

Step 4:


Realized my darks weren't dark enough, so added #177 Sennelier, the best REALLY dark green I've found, without going to black. Started putting more colors in the trees, adding those greens into the reflections. Finished the far hills. It's starting to look like a painting and I'm liking the values.

Step 5:


Added more to the river water - starting to bring the water highlights over the tree reflections. Added some brighter yellow greens to the trees and left bank.

This is as far as I've gotten so far. Will post more as I go along. (Hopefully the finished product won't be disappointing!)

Thanks for looking. HARD C & C welcome.


Paula Ford
03-15-2008, 01:46 PM
Looking good so far Leslie.

03-15-2008, 03:54 PM
Thanks Paula... I'm likng this one, which is rare for me :rolleyes:

Here's step 6:


Starting to think hard about the water, and saw I needed some more dark across the reflections. Blocked in all those little rock in the midground.

Step 7:


Working on the foreground, defining the rocks, adding violets in the waves around them. More work on the mid section of the water.

Step 8:http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/15-Mar-2008/125812-step_8.jpg

Fussing around with the water still. Have added some orangey comps to a lot of the greenery, which doesn't show in the photo well. Just for a little "pop".

Step 9 (ALMOST done!) The fun part, adding the highlights to the water and all the little rocks.


This is basically done, tho' I'll probably do a little more work on the foreground highlights. Hope you've enjoyed the process. Anything screaming "Help!!" that you can see?


03-15-2008, 04:52 PM
Thank you for posting your progress. I loved seeing the steps that took you to the gorgeous finish. What a great painting.:clap:

03-15-2008, 07:06 PM

Thanks for posting the progress of this work.
It's really good. I like the "wetness" but what got my attention are the mounts in the background. They give lots of depth and are realistic.

Kind regards,


03-15-2008, 07:31 PM
you certainly have nailed the rapids ... the middle and background are really well done ... i find that the stream beyond the rapids slants though, whereas the water in the original is level ....

Paula Ford
03-15-2008, 07:33 PM
WOW, this is beautiful!!

03-15-2008, 07:57 PM
Leslie, you certainly captured the feeling of the riffles and the light on the trees. I know there are some nice trout hanging at the edge. Thanks for sharing the steps. I really enjoyed the progression. Well done.

03-15-2008, 08:21 PM
Thanks everyone! I was really happy doing this one... it was nice not getting frustrated mid-stream, so to speak. :o

Violet - you're right about the angles on the river. The photo's a bit crooked, but there's still a problem. Fiddled with it in Photoshop. I think this will work to fix it.


Dropped the lighter violet down on the right side, straightening the dark ripple so it matches the angles down stream (up in the pic). Also, added some of the mid darks from the bottom into the upper right part of the quiet water. And I want to do a little to the white water in the front ripple - it looks a bit spikey in places. I'll do it IRL tomorrow... it's too late now!

Glad you all liked seeing the progress steps. I think it's fascinating and helpful to see how others go about their painting process.

Thanks for the nice comments and the help!


03-15-2008, 08:59 PM
Hi Leslie,

Fantastic job! Great seeing your progression and reading about your thoughts along the way. Here I am again to mess up the masterpiece you have! Really, do not change anything, but please consider this for future work when dealing with the sky and water colors. In most cases the color of the water will be slightly darker and maybe a tad warmer that the sky color. If you squint your eyes at the reference, which we all know is deceptive in the first place, you will notice that the value in the water is darker, maybe with the exception of the very lightest lights on the ripples. Sometimes even pushing this concept can help create a stronger painting... I am not suggesting that this piece is not strong and beautiful in its own right.

You have done a great job. Hope you do not mind me throwing this info out there.

03-15-2008, 10:57 PM
this has been a great way to end a very busy day for me! thank you very much, for taking time to post all this! fantastic! i think your final painting is extremely well done!

and klord, very great observation, i will store that one away in my 'head files'.

03-15-2008, 11:30 PM
Oh thank you for sharing your progress! This is so beautiful! I enjoyed Klord critique as I did know that.... Doncha just love this place :)) Again very beautiful!!

03-15-2008, 11:34 PM
Perfect timing for me.

I have learned so much from this. Wonderful painting, and wonderful WIP.

Thanks for sharing.


03-15-2008, 11:40 PM
That was suppose to be .. I did NOT know that... LOL.

03-16-2008, 02:43 AM
looking marvelous ....!! .... i agree that adding some rich warm blues to the water would warm up the painting which consists of predominantly cool colours this far ...

03-16-2008, 07:04 AM
I particularly like the composition -- you capture the expansiveness of that part of the country! Thanks for the WIP. It's always fun to see how a painting develops.

03-16-2008, 07:04 AM
A beautiful painting Leslie, thanks for showing us how you did it.

03-16-2008, 08:17 AM
Thanks everyone! Kim, I'll keep in mind your tip for the next one.

Here's the final:


I added quite a bit of warmer color to the front rapids... some dark browns and a deep rust color, bringing in some earth colors that you would be able to see IRL as it's very shallow. (and why IS it that things look great on my monitor, and then I post the pic and you lose all the detail color? Is it just that the resolution is so low on the posted pics? It's a bit frustrating...) Anyways, added some more mid-tones to the flat water and the trees; highlighted the little rocks on the left, which I'd forgotten; played with the white water in the front rapid - really pale blue and white only on the frothiest parts (again, impossible to discern on the post! :mad: ) I think I'm finished, before I fiddle too much.

Thanks for your eyes and your help, as always!


03-16-2008, 09:24 AM
Oh this wip is just spectacular. I will defiantly come back and read this more thoroughly. You are very talented

Merethe T
03-16-2008, 09:40 AM
Oooo, gorgeous!! Great finish, and great demo - thank you!


Paula Ford
03-16-2008, 10:14 AM
Now that is a beautiful place to be!! Gorgeous!