The Calapooia River runs through the town of Brownsville Oregon, and last week some of us painted the river while others painted some of the historic buildings in town. I joined the river painters, knowing if I chose the town I could easily spend hours wandering around, finding too many fun options, and not being able to settle on one. (We’ve painted there before, and yes, that was what I did!)
This view of the river, divided by a small island caught my eye, and I jumped right in on Yupo paper, painting my sketch with watercolor paint, choosing not to start with a pencil drawing since erasing doesn’t work very well on Yupo paper.
Looks just like it, doesn’t it? A few quick watercolor strokes were used to put in the basic shapes while I held my slide viewfinder up to create my composition.
Now maybe you can start seeing some of the imagery better at this stage. I’d painted the water and some of the colors of the foliage. While letting it dry, I clamped the corner to a dandelion to keep it from blowing away.
Here I’m adding some darks. Yupo paper is quite challenging – sometimes as you paint on a stroke, it will wipe away an area you were hoping to keep! I have to be flexible, and willing to “go with the flow” when working with this substrate.
Above is where I left off at the end of that plein air session, then back home in my studio I finished it up.
Calapooia River Island
watercolor on Yupo paper
While waiting for the above painting to dry, I started a second smaller painting, also on Yupo paper. Again, here’s the initial sketch, also with watercolor paint. This time I wanted to focus on the trees in the distance, letting the island take a supporting role.
I blocked in the tree shapes and some of the island and greenery across the river.
Once home I noticed the river was a bit too vertical, the perspective not quite right, but since this was Yupo paper, that wasn’t a problem – I was able to reshape the river and fix the issue. I then put in a lot more work hoping to keep it looking fresh and not overworked as I finished—another plus for Yupo paper’s slippery quality. It’s hard to overwork a piece when it can be so easily wiped away!