Learn how to paint a river with acrylics in this painting tutorial. Artist Ashley Krieger is traveling and painting in all 50 U.S. states. Today she takes you to Ohio to capture a river under an old covered bridge. I hope you enjoy this video as she paints plein air.
While we were in Ohio, one of the things we did, was check out some of the covered bridges. Being from the west, this isn't something we had seen before. These bridges go over the many rivers and streams, in Ohio. While checking out one of these bridges I glanced out and saw the light glistening off of the river. I really wanted to paint this beautiful sight. I couldn't paint it from the bridge, as it was dangerous being on the road. So I found a spot on these slabs of rock that reached out into the river. I thought the slabs of rock were just as cool, so I painted them both. The view from the bridge would have made for a better painting, but sometimes I just have to go with the flow. I think this painting turned out even better.
Buy this Painting
You can enjoy this artwork in your own space! Grab a print and place it in my recommended frame or get a canvas print ready to hang.
Learn to Paint a River
You can find the acrylic art supplies use here. I also used metallic gold, bronze, copper and silver Liquitex heavy body acrylic paints. Watch the tutorial to see what colors I used and when.
Steps to Painting Your Own River
Step 1 - Start by laying out the paints you will use. Then using a 1" brush sketch out your composition (where things are in your painting). I use black paint for my composition color, but it doesn't really matter the color.
Step 2 - Paint the main objects with the main colors. For example my background is very dark so I start with black. The water is mainly blue. The rock has a lot of shadows so I paint it black, however I could have painted it tan for the same effect but I decided to add the light last, which made putting the shadows down first a better choice.
Step 3- Start adding details from the background and move down your painting adding more color and detail as you go down. The trees in the back don't need to have as much detail as your water in the foreground for example. I used several colors to make my details. See video for specifics.
Step 4 - Add the shadow and light into your water. It is very important to make several layers of colors. You will want to place down shadows in your water which I used dark blue-grey and bronze. Use the brush stroke as seen in the video. Add light where the sun hits the water with the same brush stroke. A middle color of blue should be used throughout. The light reflecting off the water is white and gold. The area in the background reflecting the light will be more spread out and less detailed, see video. The light reflecting off the water in the foreground is more detailed, see video.
Step 5 - Paint the rock. Again this takes many layers. It is the layers that make the rock look more realistic. In my rock I use every color I have on my palette. However I use more of certain colors like tan, gold and bronze.
Step 6 - Paint in the shadow of your hay rows using a dark color, such as bronze, purple, black. It is important to look for detail and shapes as you paint. Don't be afraid to use other colors like purple, blue, and even green in the rock formation, but only a small amount. This will bring unity to your painting.
Step 7 - Add the last details. Be sure to step back and even away from your painting for a little while. Then keep working on it until your happy with it. Sign your work and share it with me on Instagram with @createfulart or #createfulart
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