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  • Writer's pictureDale Jackson

Painting Grizzly Falls - Block-In, Part 1

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

In the next blog posts, I'm going to be discussing my next work. My next painting is going to be a vertical landscape painting of Grizzly Falls, located in beautiful Kings Canyon National Park, near Sequoia National Forest, California.

The 80 ft. tall waterfall isn't the largest, or tallest waterfall to see, but I really liked the rustic location set amid tall pines in Kings Canyon. Our family would often drive to Sequoia and Kings Canyon when we lived in California for 15 years in the mid 2000s.

I loved the way the water cascaded down the broken rock and the tall pines framed the beautiful falls quite nicely.

The way I'm approaching this painting is a little different than my other paintings in that I'm composing my scene right on the canvas, rather than pre-composing my scenes on paper or a computer and then projecting them onto the canvas or using the grid method to get the exact composition transferred to the canvas.

I'm using my own photograph to compose this scene, primarily working from one photo that I took of the falls.

Grizzly Falls is located very close to the road and a small picnic area, and so it was easy to be able to take some pictures. Most of my pictures of the area were lost due to a hard drive crash I had while moving to Ohio a number of years ago and this is the only surviving photograph I have of this memory. I wanted to preserve it by painting this beautiful scene.

Using my photograph as a guide, I started to recreate the structures of the rocks with a soft dark pencil

Something that I wanted to try, was to actually sketch out the basic rocky structures, essentially just concentrating on the negative areas besides the subject itself, the falls. Since the white water cascading over the falls was well, white, I didn't really need to sketch that, but just the surrounding rocks that shape the falls.

I used charcoal to deepen the rocky structures. Now this differs from traditional methods of painting, but I wanted to incorporate my drawing methods into my painting as a test. This, I would later seal as an underpainting, or rather underdrawing. Many painters create an underpainting doing all that I'm doing here with paint. I'm making a departure, in that I'm drawing instead of painting. I'm just testing to see if this method could work. It may, or it may not. We will see. I always like to explore different methods.

My completed underdrawing for this painting. Unorthodox, I know. But I do love to experiment.

After sealing it with Krylon Workable Fixatif spray and drying for several days, I painted a thin layer of burnt umber wash over the entire underdrawing to warm up the canvas.

The underdrawing, sealed with Krylon Workable Fixatif spray is now warmed with a thin overcoat of burnt umber oil.

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