This is a waterfall called “Shirafuji-no-taki”, located in Ashoro town, Hokkaido, Japan. You can see how the surrounding area is like by watching the following short video on YouTube:

I visited this place in August 2013 because I needed to take some photos of waterfalls. I was then a member of a major nature-photo club in Tokyo, where the members had to submit some photos following the monthly assignments provided by the owner of the photo club. The theme of the assignment for August or maybe September for this year was “waterfall”, so I came here to do my homework.

The day I visited there was very cloudy and the weather forecast said that it was going to rain. So this scene looked totally different from the one you see in the above video. The photo I took then is this:

I did not like this photo so much so I submitted a different one which I took at another location called Shosenkyo for the monthly meeting of the photo club. After that, I had not had a chance to see this photo for years. But I started learning pastel drawing last year and recently I checked my old photos to find good ones for my pastel drawings and bumped into this one. I suspected if this could possibly make a good pastel landscape drawing, but I wanted to draw something dark, as most of my pastel drawings so far were pretty brightly-coloured. What I have been working on for the recent few months is basically my portfolio development and I needed to think about a good balance to make my portfolio look appealing. Some dark-toned works pepper the portfolio. So I decided to try this piece anyways and see how it would work out.

Although it is true that I wanted some dark works in my portfolio, the photo looked too dark. So I edited the photo a bit like this to prepare a better reference:

As it turned out, the pastel version has become less dark and the colour of the falling water has turned much whiter compared to the one in the photo.

I wondered if I should change these things, but I eventually decided to leave them as they were, considering the impressions this piece could give as an artwork. If I am working on the portrait of this waterfall, I should perhaps be as true as possible to the actual colour of the waterfall, but I do not necessarily mean to draw a portrait of this place. Plus the brighter colours of the columnar joints are working better to emphasize the contrast of the scene, making the dark tone of this work look more spicy. There are many different types of darkness and what I want is not pure darkness, but darkness which works to make an artwork engaging. In this sense I think the pastel version is much better than the photo.

When I started working on this piece, I was going to title this one as simply “Shirafuji-no-taki”. But once I looked at the finished artwork, it was something different which used Shirafuji-no-taki as the model. So I needed to give a different name to it. This waterfall is located in a pretty lonely place and not so popular compared to some major well-known waterfalls, and yet it keeps spitting water so fiercely as if to say “so what?”. This waterfall’s somewhat detached manner evoked an independent person who has strong inner feelings who looks very quiet on the surface. So I decided to name it as “the waterfall within”. This particular wording is a pun for a book titled “the statue within” by François Jacob. This is one of my favourite books since I was a student of pharmaceutical sciences 🙂