The Progress of: River Rock Walk

Haven’t posted a drawing in a long time. So sorry for the absence! I will talk about that in the next post, more on Project Warrior 🙂 I have been lining up new pieces lately to create, and most of them are fairly small. River Rock Walk is 7 wide x 9 high. I wanted to do this so I can get more pieces out in a shorter amount of time while I work on other things in my life as well. It’s balancing act but very well worth it.

It’s now time to move onto the tutorial 🙂 For this piece I am working on bristol paper. Funny thing is this is the paper I started on a few years ago. Didn’t always love it for this piece but it worked out fairly well to achieve the smooth texture I was shooting for. I solely used Prismacolors as well, haven’t picked them up in a while but they worked quite well for this piece since they are wax based and blended well with my OMS that I use.

I got the reference photo from, they have awesome images to choose from.

River Rocks 2
Rocks are never just plain. Each one is different which is something I keep in mind throughout this piece. Over time, I will go in with those simple details that really helps those rocks pop.

Once the outline is completed I started to go in with light browns and greens. The image I am using is of a shallow river rock bed, the rocks are submerged in beautifully clear water. I wanted to achieve that ‘wet’ look, which is something new for me. I took my time and started on one end of the piece and slowly moved my way over and down. Working in lights first, I am just worried about basic form right now. Majority of these rocks are smooth so I keep that in mind.

River Rocks 3
The shadows in between are not black. I used Indigo Blue, Grape, 90% Grey and glazed an Ultramarine Blue over it to keep the cool temperature.

I stick to a small area throughout this piece. I work in about 4-6 layers for each section, blending each with OMS. When working in unfamiliar territory, slow down just a little bit more. I am constantly looking at my reference photo to really feel the rocks texture and the water’s temperature. Working this way also helps me keep the piece balance in terms of colors and temperature. I can always go back later to darken areas up, which in time I do.

River Rocks 4
When you have an image, like this, where there are two distinct main colors it might be difficult to balance them out. Have no fear, and remember patience is avert you. Walk away and come back with fresh eyes.

As I move down, you can see the main colors change to a more orange-y yellow. These particular rocks are peaking through the waters surface and being graced by the warmth of the sun. The rocks still look fairly flat, but over time they shape up. During this time, I am going back and forth to shape up the rocks and help them flow more with the entire piece.

River Rocks 6
I can’t see a huge amount of rock under the water glare, but enough to give basic shapes. People will know under the water glare there are rocks. It’s pretty obvious. So don’t worry about that superb detail, at least until you get the basics down first.

Now things get really interesting! And difficult at times….. At this point majority of the piece is filled in. But, the last corner is rearing it’s challenging head. It’s time for the ripples in the water. When I first glance at this in the image I am using, it’s incredibly intimidating. When dealing with glare in water, don’t focus on the ripples right away. What I did do (which it’s hard to see in this photo) is lightly sketch out the ripples. This way I have a direction to go in, the highlights are there and I can focus on what is underneath the water.

River Rock Walk colored pencil 7x9 120.00
River Rock Walk; Colored Pencil; 7×9 $120.00

Once the layers are down and I am satisfied, I go back through to add is small details that help mold the entire piece even more. One thing I am really good at doing, is over doing it. You don’t need to put every little detail in the piece to get your message across. The brain will fill in those blanks automatically. Over time, detail will become more apparent. Work at your skill level, as I do, and move on from there.

Of course you can purchase this piece! I have this listed on my website as well as my Daily Paintworks Page. I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below. Be well and enjoy 🙂

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