How to paint a waterfall

If you love the look of waterfall scenery, you can paint your own waterfall portrait to hang in your home. Of course, you can use any kind of paint to create a waterfall. However, painting one with oil paints will allow you to add a realistic texture, whereas watercolours lend themselves to a softer, more abstract waterfall. You'll need the right paint brushes and technique to create your own oil paint waterfall scene.

Brush a coat of black acrylic gesso on the whole surface of the canvas. Allow it to dry completely for at least eight hours. The black layer on the bottom will give you a shadowy base to work with so that all you need to do is add gradually lighter shades to get the depth of the water.

Apply a coat of clear oil medium on top of the black gesso to make it smooth and give it a glossy finish. This will help the oil paints glide on the surface more easily. Wait 24 hours to allow it to dry completely before you proceed.

Dip a wide, squared paint brush into the first colour you are using in the background. In most cases, the farthest area in the background of your painting is the sky. Fill in the colour for the sky and the areas closer to the foreground, such as a forest or mountains. Paint the background in and add the details up the point where your waterfall will start.

Load some light to medium blue onto a fan brush. The fan brush will help you get the "spraying" effect that falling water has. Make sure the paint is even on the fan brush. Apply the paint horizontally across the canvas until you are ready to drop the waterfall. Gently curve the brush down to drop. Keep the brush on the canvas and pull your brush down straight. Gradually apply less pressure as you reach the bottom of the waterfall.

Add white to the top of the waterfall with the fan brush where the water curves down. Go slowly so that you do not add too much white -- you only want to add enough to reflect the sunlight on the water.

Use the fan brush and the blue colour and create quick, horizontal strokes back and forth to add water at the bottom of the waterfall.

Paint in the rocks surrounding the waterfall and add any small details, like plant life around the rocks. Add the final touch at the bottom of the waterfall by gently dabbing some white "spray" with the fan brush. Allow for the oil paint to dry completely over a few days before displaying it.

Things You'll Need

  • Canvas
  • Black gesso
  • Paint brushes
  • Clear oil medium
  • Oil paints
  • Fan brush
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About the Author

Angela Neal is a writer for various websites, specializing in published articles ranging from the categories of art and design to beauty and DIY fashion. Neal received her Associate of Arts in administrative assisting from Bohecker College.