Yesterday, I went to the movies and saw To The Wonder, directed by Terrence Malick (Tree of Life, Days of Heaven). Malick is probably best known for his gorgeous cinematic poetry. He uses beautiful camerawork to showcase the natural beauty of our world (and sometimes our destruction of it). One element of nature that he seemed to really focus on in this movie was water. Oceans, puddles, rivers, indoor pools—this film was swimming in shots of water, each more beautiful than the last.
To the Wonder (2012) – photo still
As I watched this visual theme develop, I started thinking about taking it beyond the theater with me, which makes it our new Scribblin’spiration! Water can take on so many forms and appearances. Sometimes it looks blue or green or gray… other times it’s clear. From far away, it seems opaque, while up close it’s transparent and can distort whatever you’re seeing through it. It can be in a natural body, like an ocean or river, or it can be in a pool. It could be running from a faucet or waterfall, or just sitting in a glass. Sometimes it’s still and tranquil while other times it’s rough and choppy. And that’s just in its liquid state! Don’t forget ice, steam, and fog! But for now, let’s focus on liquid. While seeing water is a pretty common occurrence, it still makes a fascinating subject for art.
Now it’s your turn. Try out your own artistic interpretations of water by observing a couple different examples. Go out to nearby river or pond. Take along a sketchbook on a trip to the beach. Check out some puddles after a rainstorm or just fill up a glass of water. Try working with pencil, pastels, paint, and watercolors. See how each medium changes the way the water looks and the mood of your picture.
Here are some artists’ own interpretations to give you an idea of how different water can look from one painting to the next. Have fun experimenting and don’t forget to share a link to your work with us!
Starry Night Over the Rhone (1888), Vincent Van Gogh
Portrait of Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1971), David Hockney
Lemon Water (2010), Debbie Becks Cooper