Watercolor landscape painting of river and rocks by Janet Tarjan Erl.

Mumford Bar North Fork American River

Medium: Watercolor, Image Size: 23.5”h x 17.5”w, 2009.

This scene depicts a clear, deep pool of the North Fork of the American River at Mumford Bar. I wanted to do this painting because I love the deep luscious pools and the sculpted, polished, and weathered rocks of the river canyon. This area had been a historic gold miners camp from the gold rush days of the 49ers, so when you hike around the river’s edge, you come across old mining equipment and tunnels. It’s a wonderful place to swim in the hot summers of the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California, but it’s a fairly long and steep hike out of the canyon, so you get heated up by the time you’ve hiked out. The deep clear waters of the American River and all its forks and tributaries are the places I grew up around and explored as a kid and young adult.

The focal point of the painting is the middle ground rocks, but they are equally offset by the deep emerald water – an offset focal point. You see the water first because it is so strong, but the diagonal line of the water/rock boundary leads you from the upper left to the lower right, then around to the rocks. The rocks are angular, sculptural, strong, and they make a stark contrast to the smooth, blended, and peaceful water. It’s a yin and yang, black and white, can’t have one without the other sort of focal point.

The biggest problem I encountered with doing the artwork was in doing the river. I worked wet in wet and really saturated the paper with lots of pigments to get the emerald and cerulean colors to stand out. The submerged rocks were tricky to get the right value, so I had to work fast enough so that they worked in while wet. I pulled a little color out of some of those rock areas while wet too.

I used Arches 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper which I stretched while wet so that I had a flat surface to work with while doing the wet in wet washes.

This painting was juried into the National Watercolor Society 89th Annual Exhibition, 2009, La Brea, California, the Northwest Watercolor Society 2010 70th Annual Open Exhibition, Seattle WA., and the Watercolor Society of Oregon 45th Annual Transparent Watercolor Exhibition 2010, Salem, Oregon, (2nd Place, People’s Choice Award, & Statewide Touring Exhibit).

Original is sold.

Note: Image Watermark of Copyright and/or Website are NOT on the Original.