This is one of my favorite scenes in the Columbia Gorge. It is one of the first falls you see as you head east from Portland. My inspiration came from trying to create a memory of a stellar day and the sheer luck of getting a good reference photo from a quick snap shot out the window while zipping down the freeway on the way to a hike with a friend.
The wealth of details in large scenes like this present a painting challenge. Too many and the essence of the scene is lost; too little and it doesn’t read right. On the Way had a lot of simplifying done to it as it was painted.
I started this with a turpentine wash to create the drawing. Once dry, I followed up with another wash layer to establish the dark areas. The sky came next. I usually do additional washes on bright skies because the pale colors have a tendency to bleed through somewhat. That was how I caught the pale pinks near the horizon on the left. The sky took about four separate mixtures done on the palette and applied and manipulated on the canvas to blend and unify the sky. The edges are key in making a piece like this read so I carefully added the trees and established the whole edge where the ground and the sky meet.
I then proceeded to paint in the whole piece with direct paint as opposed to washes. The color for each part was mixed on the palette and applied with brush and palette knife. I paid particular attention to the details of the stone around the waterfall to portray both the lichen and the bare rock.
Once I had the entire piece painted, I glazed almost all of it to help unify the colors and fill in any gaps. Then I did some final detailing to the lights and darks to pull everything together. I really worked the big shadow areas so that they had more detail than my hastily snapped reference photo had to offer.