Sketching Fountains

There’s something about moving water that I really like. It mesmerizes me, whether it’s waves, ripples, or cascades. I also like looking at fountains. I sketched a couple of fountains these past weeks.

Fountains are always fun to look at, but tricky to sketch. Shooting water is hard to capture, as is the spray that flies off of it. Sometimes my fountains have looked like amorphous blobs, but if you can break the cluster of water down into values and shapes, it helps. For instance, I was at a senior living community and sketched this fountain:

One of my tricks is to try and have a darker value behind the fountain (like trees or rocks) so that the white paper can show through and the contrast helps form a shape. Second, I try and use little lines and flecks, dots, and tiny loose circles of pen marks to indicate the fountain (not dotted lines, just flecks). I then go in with watercolor and add light purples for values that indicate a 3D quality. Finally, I wait for paint to dry, then go in with a white Gelly Roll pen to highlight areas of white, dots for spray, etc…

In this sketch, I wanted the umbrella to be part of the subject matter, so the fountain played a secondary role.In this next sketch, at a nearby subdivision entrance, I wanted the fountain to play major role, so I drew the landscaping around the fountain.

I kept the water loose and pumped up the background colors and values. With paint spatters and other loose markings, the water of the fountain is an impression, it’s not a perfect replica, but it gives the idea.

Sketching water is hard, especially moving water, but if you try to break it down into shapes, put a darker background near it, create some different values (lights and darks) in it, and use a white pen to amp up the highlights, you’ll have a fun fountain to share!

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