Smoky Mountain River in Early Spring (sold) | Richard G. Tiberius

Smoky Mountain River in Early Spring (sold)  |  Richard G. Tiberius

30 inches (76.2 cm) by 24 inches (61 cm) high

In early spring, Smoky Mountain rivers run high.  The river I painted here has spread its tea-colored water over the stony apron, imparting a rich caramel tone to the stones.  Beyond the water’s reach the stones were almost white.  This dramatic contrast helped me define the water’s edge.

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Yellow Birch trees (Betula alleghaniensis) stretched over the open water to catch the light.  Yellow Birch are easily recognized by their peeling bark, like that of their better-known cousins the Paper Birches (Betula papyrifera). But the amber colored bark of the Yellow Birch doesn’t peel easily in flat sheets like that of the Paper Birch.  Rather it shreds in thin curls giving the trunk a rough appearance. I used a wet-on-wet technique, layering one color on top of another, to achieve this rough look.

Painting water is challenging, especially moving water, because it reflects all the colors of its surroundings. I used a wet-on-wet technique here as well, saving the white sparkles for the final layer.  I was particularly pleased when a friend–a fly fisherman–told me that he imagined lightly casting his fly on the water just above the rocks.  Then, when the fly swooshed over the rock a speckled trout would be waiting in the dark water to snap it up.  I was delighted to hear his description.  Apparently I had captured something that seemed authentic enough to stimulate the imagination of a person who knows and loves these mountain rivers.


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