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Help! Artist Caught in a Maelstrom!

"Maelstrom" is a 12x16 pastel on Uart 400 grade pastel paper, inspired by a hike at Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.

The violence of these rapids caught my attention. I wanted to convey the movement of the water from the upper left down across the rocks, as well as the effect of the late day sun giving the water highlights an orange tinge.

The lighting built into this pastel has a tendency to change based on the shifting of light during the day. I displayed "Maelstrom" on an easel in my living room which has a cathedral ceiling. Early morning light began to highlight the lightest center, while the late day light brought out the entire highlighted areas of the rushing water. One of my painting style goals is to create a painting that "lights up" in places. I believe I have accomplished this with "Maelstrom."

I chose a vibrant blue acrylic underpainting which can be seen in portions of the large rocks on the right and on the rocks in the water on the left. I introduced a variety of blues and aqua colors to capture the middle values in the water. I sparingly used white, preferring light blues and purples.

One challenge I faced was in the composition. The rock in the upper left was originally not part of the reference photo. But something needed to balance the large rocks on the right. So therefore I placed the rock on the upper left to give the composition the balance it needed. It helps to keep the viewer's eye in the painting rather than veering off to the upper left and out of the painting.

Another feature I added was the interplay of light on the curves of the water. You can see the image of an "X" at about the halfway point of the canvas across from the large rocks. This added some drama if not anger to the violent scene.

"Maelstrom" was inspired by a reference photo from a fellow hiker in Ontario who gave me the permission to use the photo to design this pastel painting. You can see the photo below. Note that the water was not as violent as my rendition. I also left out the rainbow and the person on the rock. Artist's license!

"Maelstrom" is currently available in my online shop.

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