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Fresh off the Easel: Rush Hour

Rush Hour was inspired by a trip with my family to Ireland in 2008. After visiting with my wife's family in County Mayo, the five of us headed off on a tour throughout the West Coast of Ireland, traveling along the Rings of Kerry and exploring the countryside.

After using Google Images to identify the place where the below photo was taken, we discovered that these waterfalls are know as Torc Falls, in Killarney National Park in County Kerry.

I was inspired by the rush of the water and the meandering of the waterfalls from the distant wooded area. To add spice to the painting, I used my signature bold acrylic under painting technique, seen below.

You can see the thickness of the purple and black acrylic toward the top, contrasting with the much softer light blue wash to capture the cascading falls. This pastel was done on sturdy Uart sanded paper, conditioned to accept such a variety of media. Here is the completed pastel, "Rush Hour:"

To emphasize the excitement of the falls in the foreground, I purposely muted much of the distant, wooded area. You will note that details begin to surface at the lower half of the painting. There was so much to see and enjoy in this scene, and I had to choose where to place the emphasis. Water splashing over the large, worn-down stones became the focal point.

Notice the rough, bold pastel strokes depicting movement. One of the beauties of pastel is the ability to attack a canvas with such fierce strokes of color. Such a technique served this scene quite well.

There can be many "cliche" painting subjects, waterfalls included! I would invite artists to view a waterfall from a different perspective. Below is "Free Fallin,'" named after the Tom Petty song.

With this waterfall, I decided to immerse myself (figuratively ) in the falls. This pastel was inspired by a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, visiting Bonanza Falls. You can see portions of the vibrant blue acrylic under painting in the water and the rocks. Again, some rough pastel strokes convey the excitement of the rushing water.

Here is another pastel of Bonanza Falls. Notice how "basic" this view is. More of a tourist photo than a depiction of the violence of a waterfall:

Bond Falls, also in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, was a little more exciting (the water level was quite low at Bonanza falls above). See my 12x18 pastel, "Torrent," below:

As I wrote this blog, I uncovered another six waterfall paintings I have done over the years. One of my favorite pastimes is touring the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and visiting the best of the 300 waterfalls that dot the landscape.

After reviewing my paintings, however, I realized I have not painted a waterfall in winter. I bet the ice would be fantastic to convey (although without the motion). Time to do that!

If you get a chance to visit Douglas, Michigan, on the "Art Coast" of the state, stop by Mr. Miller's Art Emporium to see a display of eight 9x12 pastel paintings available for sale. These plein air-framed pastels depict a variety of landscapes, from Michigan to New York to Washington State.

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