I am working away at my new Santa painting, which features a birdcage that has water in it. This concept creates a new challenge for me, which is how to show water in a container.
Water has been tackled by many artists in many forms. From calm lakes to turbulent oceans, from white water cascading down waterfalls to calm and still lake images.
By manipulating highlights and shadows and the action of a heavy or light brush treatment an overall sense of movement can be created. Since water is clear, the color choices depend on what is being reflected into the water surface. Outdoors it is often the sky and whatever is in or around the water surface that is reflected into the water, thus determining the color choices.
Painting still water on the other hand is completely dependent on reflections.
I have been looking at photos of standing water and made the following observations:
a. Reflections are a mirror image of whatever happens to be above the water surface.
b. Reflections are more muted in color and not in focus. Note the slight blur.
c. A light object has a dark reflection and a dark object a light reflection. Note how the reflection of things is much lighter in the water.
d. Angles are a mirror image. If you were to flip the photo to it's side you get the exact opposing angles in the reflection.
e. Reflections become more blurry if the water surface has been disturbed and form long strands of color (see lower corner of photo).These make the actual item look rather distorted, just as in the railing of the boat.