Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Painting light and shadow

Akaka Falls
12 x 9 soft pastels on Art Spectrum Colourfix
Miki Willa
Some time ago, I painted a very small waterfall along the path to Akaka Falls near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. This morning, I decided to paint my impression of the big falls. I wanted to keep it loose because I wanted to concentrate on the shadows and light areas created by the morning sun the day I visited.
The trail to the falls starts in a small parking lot at the end of a road with breathtaking views of Mauna Kea and the sea. The path is old with stone stairs in places, asphalt paths and a bit of worn concrete. There are so many exotic plants along the trail that I have not seen anywhere else. There are pink bananas, helaconias that look like centipedes, and climbers with leaves bigger than I am. After about ten minutes, we came to the overlook for the falls.
Hilo is not known for having many sunny days, but this was one of them. Because of the angle of the sun, the left side of the falls was in dark shadow but the right was in brilliant sunshine. I tried to convey the sense of what I saw in this painting. I do love waterfalls, but I think they might appear cliche in paintings. I hope I was able to move beyond the cliche by focusing on the play of the shadow and the light. I am very happy that I was able to keep this loose. Maybe, just maybe, I am breaking free from my little realist voice. It remains to be seen.

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