Framed. Lower Parsnip Creek meander 005

(Cont. from Part 1) A meander is an odd configuration to draw on paper. I sketch a few sinuous lines. The stream is actually flat, but how do I make it appear flat when some of the curved lines look vertical on the paper? Water must maintain a horizontal appearance. The trick is to delineate the water by mostly horizontal strokes between the bends of the creek, with a hint of curve aimed in the next direction. If I want the water to look like water, the flowing lines need to be done sparingly, not too many.

I choose a creek section to work on, then switch to my brush and paint pan. After dipping an old tin can into the creek for water, I wet my brush and stroke a medium tone of charcoal grey watercolor in snakelike waves across the paper, narrower at the upper end of the stream and widening toward the down side. I lengthen the horizontal sections for emphasis. At the same time I leave the accidental spots of white paper to indicate shallow water or reflected light. Unplanned variations of grey have occurred, which I decide to keep, and I see no puddles to deal with, so I put down the brush. I set the board in the sunshine to let the wet paint dry in its own watery way.

While waiting for paint to dry, I stretch my legs and explore the area. I see Don has his fishing pole out and is laying down in the grass by the stream so the fish can’t see him. Due to the narrow stream and the marshy edge, those fish will not be easy to catch.

I walk up the meadow and reflect on the enduring ways of water. The term ‘meander’ has a long history. Mentioned by Ancient Greeks, since then the term ‘meander’ has also come to mean anything winding or convoluted. The scientific study of meanders can be fascinating. Every stream has its own characteristics. Many factors are involved: water volume, changing velocity, geology of the base and banks, gravity, revolving currents, width of the plain and so forth. At the heart it’s because water flows easily and rarely in a straight line. Of course if the elevation drops dramatically, then gravity takes over and unless diverted by a major obstacle, the water carves a straight channel…


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