Zach LeBar

Personal ramblings on a wide array of topics. "But, you know,
I could be wrong."

30x30 Day 2, "Fire Across the Delta"


There ya go. Day 2’s painting. Also…fine. I think I like it better than yesterdays, but not by much. Seeing it scanned in, I like it less than I did in person. Maybe that’s a limitation of my scanner. Maybe I’m biased towards holding the thing in my hand.

This was the reference I used:


It’s an animated GIF of widlfires running across the Okavango Delta in Botswana. The shape of the delta and the contrasting burn zones really made this photo jump out at me. Painting the movement of water across a landscape using watercolor might be cheating a bit, but I don’t care. I like it. Which brings me to…

What Worked

As I suspected, this subject matter played beautifully with the pigments. I’m using student grade paints and student grade paper, so the movement isn’t silky smooth, but it’s still there. The granulation in my ultramarine blue gives a texture I like. It gives interest to those portions of the page that are a single wash.

I also think the overall shape of the forest on both sides of the river delta went well. I painted those first, leaving myself the negative space of the delta to fill in later. I think the first wash or two across the delta went well too. And I’m very happy with how the drops of fire panned out. Just let the paint do its thing.

What Didn’t Work

I…I don’t quite know what to say other than that I dislike the painting overall. Maybe it’s the tone of the colors. Maybe it’s the unbalanced negative space in the bottom left corner. I’m just not sure, but it’s not working for me. I could try and adjusted crop on it. There might be a salvagable painting in here.

Again I think I overworked it, ruining it in the final stages with those dark, hard-edged dots on the right leg of the delta. Those don’t work at all, especially when you see them in such close proximity the beautiful meltiness of the left leg of the delta.

And if I’m being nit-picky, I could’ve waited for the paint to dry a bit more before dropping a few of those fire dots at the end. That would’ve given them some contrast. Instead they all look a bit too uniform.

Final Estimate

Better than yesterday’s but only by a hair. The lesson remains the same: stop earlier! Don’t overwork it!