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Painting water poses an unique challenge to the artist. It is transparent and yet has it's own physical presence that can be very difficult to capture. Water reflects light in very unpredictable ways and its colors and patterns are hard to understand. The artist needs to observe very closely so that the artist can learn to simplify what they are observing.

Moving water can be a very difficult thing to record, but if you watch moving water in a stream or waterfall or any seascape for a time one will notice that the movement follows definite patterns, which is repeated again and again. Once one acknowledges and understands this, one can start to paint with confidence, letting one's brush strokes describe the movement.

Plein air landscape practices can be a powerful learning experience for artists of all levels in developing observational skills and helping the artist learn from multiple challenges presented to them.

Painting a flat expanse of water seems easy, but the problem for the inexperienced artist is that if often appears to be flowing uphill, but in reality it is a flat horizontal plane and must be shown as such. If your water is painted the same all over, it will look like a wall, so you will have to find a way of suggesting recession. Putting in a few ripples or loading floating matter in the foreground is one way of doing this and making ones brushstrokes smaller in the distance is another.

Waves, fast moving streams, and waterfalls are more difficult to represent than still lakes, streams, or calm seas. This is partly due to a failure to understand and observe the behavior of water and the patterns of its movement. The shapes made by water as it swirls around an obstruction, or waves as they swell, peak and curl over onto themselves follow certain patterns, so it is always important to sit and watch before you begin to paint.

Another problem is deciding how you are going to catch this feeling of ever-changing movement. As a general rule let your brushwork describe the flow of the water using directional strokes that simulate its movement and follow its sweeps and swirls.

Don't be afraid of the water and take the dip!!

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Are greens really the most difficult hue to handle on your palette? With the following tips, you can produce better greens that are more natural looking and realistic.

Greens right out of the tube will look unnatural, harsh and will need to be neutralized a bit. You can bring down the chroma (saturation) of your green by adding its complement which is red or any reddish tone and in the process make it look more like what is in nature. This can also be accomplished by adding black which does not alter the color but only brings down its brightness (chroma).

When mixing greens with any combination of a blue and a yellow that you might have on your palette, you must neutralize the hue to bring down the saturation. The same applies when you are using hues directly from your tubes such as Phthalo Green, Viridian Green, Sap Green, Hookers Green, Chromium ofOxide or any paint that is labeled “green".

You can neutralize greens by adding any red (eg.: Cadmium Red, Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna or other reds) that you might have on your palette. By doing so, you will automatically neutralize your hue and bring it closer to the “olive notes” that you see in nature.

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Remember when using white to lighten your warm tones that it will cool, deaden and dull your warm hues.

In the illustration provided, the onion reads as white, but it has a hint of cool and warm color notes within its overall shape. If it was painted pure white, the object or highlight would dominate your painting way too much.

So, how can you stop making pink tomatoes? The key is when attempting to lighten warm colors like reds, oranges, etc., add yellow to start the lightening process. Yellow is very high on the value scale and will help elevate your color to a higher value. If you need to add more white to get the value even higher, then add just a touch of the warm base color you are working with back into the mix to compensate for the cooling action of white.

Pure white will move forward and dominate in your artwork, so only use pure white for the extreme bright highlights in your painting and use it to a minimum. It is safer to make any of your whites “almost white” by adding just a touch of color to add warmth to your highlights, mid-tones and darks.

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