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Acrylic on canvas

24" x 12"

July 5, 2019. Painted in plein aire from the National Park's overlook platform.


This was my first time painting a waterfall. I had seen photos of Madison Falls online, so I knew its location and relative proportions well before arriving at the site. It is surprisingly accessible, being just a 200-yard, level, paved walk from parking along the Elwha river. 


Using a very simple palette of black, green, yellow, and especially white, I wanted to capture on canvas the essence of this precious natural gem in the northern foothiils of the Olympic National Forest in the northwest corner of Washington State. The eternal roar and hiss of the water. The nurturing coolness of the the misty spray in the filtered sunlight of the old-growth evergreen forest on a hot summer day. The slow but relentless erosion of the pounding waterfall against the rocky hillside. The multiple shades of lush iridescent green moss thriving on the moist rock faces on either side of the falls.


The Elwha River and the watercourses that flow into it have earned a special place in the hearts of Washingtonians. In 2011 we chose to remove a 95 year-old dam on the Elwha in order to help revive the salmon that use the river to spawn. Reviving the salmon runs along Washington's coastlines, in turn, helps revive the Orca whales, which have been central to the spirit of Pacific Northwest culture for thousands of years.

Madison Falls

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