I love a good painting challenge, and this riverscape had it all: strong contrast, intriguing shadows, transparency, highlights.

I was positioned at a right angle to the morning sun streaming through from the left. I tried to keep the shadowed area to the left thin and somewhat transparent. Mixtures were heaviest with phthalocyanine blue modified with ultramarine and manganese violet. Sometimes I used magenta as well.

The leafy trees in the middle ground were of several species, so I wanted to emphasize their differences by mixing separate green palettes for each tree. Highlights were used to portray the shiny and waxy look of these riverine trees. I think this was a transition area for the light coming through, where the light still reflected the blue of morning on the back trees and reached full warmth on the center tree. Beneath the trees were several rocks all in a row, which gives this painting its title.

The challenge here was not to overpaint the details in the shadow areas, but rather suggest nooks and crannies with the flip of the brush. Highlights were cadmium lemon and white layered over each other until I got the brightness I wanted. It seems the whites lose their punch when they dry, so I over-compensated for that as I went along.

The oil paint mixtures for the water were mixed on the palette and applied with the knife. I worked with the same blues I mentioned earlier, but I changed the proportions of my mixtures to achieve the look I was after. The coarser paint application lent itself well to making a convincing portrayal of the water.

The forefront had long wavy river grass. I did not over-detail this area because it was mostly in shadow. I mixed all the separate greens on the palette and applied them with a palette knife and further manipulated the oil paint with different brushes.