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Easy Watercolor Landscape Painting

Posted by Aubrey Santana
Easy Watercolor Landscape Painting

Table of Contents:

Level: Easy

Create a Beautiful Watercolor Landscape Painting

Watercolors are an excellent medium for creating dramatic landscapes. With their fluid nature, they are especially well suited to making soft and gradient colors for gorgeous sunsets, rich shadows for dramatic effect, and angular tree-lined mountain ridges. In our easy watercolor painting video, you’ll see all these elements appear while the artist shows how to create your own amazing landscape. We suggest watching the video and reading our step-by-step watercolor tutorial first.

This is the list of supplies that correspond with those used in the video.

List of Supplies

Preparation

Tape the edges of the paper.
Before the artist in the video began her watercolor landscape painting, she used artist tape along the sides of her paper. This removable tape adheres the paper to a sturdy service to keep it from moving. This also help keeps it from warping so it stays nice and flat for framing. After you’re done, the tape comes off easily without tearing the paper, leaving a nice clean finished edge.

TIP: Use paper that is 90lb (200gsm) or heavier to make sure there is no warping or buckling when it gets wet.

Organize the paint on the palette.
It’s not necessary to put large amounts of paint on the palette. Note how the artist in the video squeezes the paint in small amounts, about the size of a pea. She keeps all her cool colors (blues) together in a row, all her warm colors (purples and reds) in a row, the light neutral (Gamboge yellow) by itself, dark neutrals (Indigo and Noir) off to the side. This arrangement makes it easier to distinguish each color from the others as well as gives you plenty of room for mixing.

Watercolor comes out of the tube in a thick paste. To loosen the paint for easier use, add a drop of water to each color.

Let’s Begin

Step 1. Sketch the horizon and hills.

Draw a light sketch to place the most important elements of the painting — the horizon and hills.

Step 2. Paint the sky.

As you can see in the video, you will begin with the sky by washing the area above the horizon line with plain water. This is the foundation of a technique known as wet-on-wet. Notice that once a color is applied, it begins to spread across the paper through the water.

This technique is used to create the sky because it looks soft and is transparent enough to make the gradient hues of a real sky. To get this effect, rows of paint are applied with a large round paintbrush with each new row mixing with the last.

Start with the Ultramarine Blue at the very top and work down the page; add a row of Cobalt Blue, then Rose, then Gamboge. As the colors meld together to create various shades in blues, violets, reds, and oranges, you begin to get the impression of a sunset.

The artist ends at the horizon line with a touch of the Cerulean Blue before beginning to add dabbs of Violet, Lilac, and Indigo. This adds character for clouds that help set the mood of a night sky.

She continues to darken the top of the sky with the Ultramarine Blue, adding touches of Indigo. This adds atmospheric perspective because the color of the sky is always lightest along the horizon and darkens as it goes farther and farther into outer space.

To finish the sky, use an approach called “lifting” to take some paint away and add a white crescent moon. You can do this by using an almost dry brush and delicately touching the tip to the paper to lift the paint from the surface onto the brush.

Step 3. Paint the hills.

The artist begins the middle ground of the painting by using a wet-on-dry process. This means she does not moisten the paper first; but, applies the paint directly to the dry surface. This approach gives her sharp edges for the mountains and hills because the paint stays put and doesn’t spread.

She also paints these hills slightly darker than she did the sky. Starting at the horizon line, she begins with the Cerulean Blue and then as she paints down the paper she adds a bit of the Prussian Blue, darkening as she goes to form the cone shape of the hill.

Adding some Cobalt Blue to the section next to the hill creates contrast and gives the two hills depth. After darkening the first hill with more Ultramarine Blue and filling in with Indigo and touches of Noir, the contrast becomes greater and the first hill begins to feel closer to the viewer.

FYI: Darker objects appear closer to the viewer — lighter objects appear farther away. This is known as aerial perspective.

Painting the section in front of the hill with Lilac and Violet finishes the middle ground and sets the stage for adding in the larger hills in the foreground.

Step 4. Paint the foreground.

The artist in the video begins painting the first of the two hills in the foreground with a wash of Lilac. She moves across the shape adding layers of paint, including Lilac, Indigo, Cerulean, and Violet to build up a dark mass. This layering process is known as “glazing.”

Using the Indigo with a touch of Noir, use the small liner for the tiny silhouettes of trees along the ridge of the hill. You can do this with delicate, nervous little strokes. Begin with the larger trees at the top and gradually make them smaller as they go down the hillside.

By mixing Lilac, Violet, Indigo, and Noir together, the artist produces a dark wash for the final hill. She continues adding layers until it is the darkest shape in the painting. Another little forest of trees are added to this hill as well.

Step 5. Remove the tape.

Once everything is dry, carefully remove the tape and you’re painting will be complete and ready to frame!

TIP: Always use a mat and frame your painting under glass. The mat will keep the painting from touching the glass, while the glass will protect the painting’s surface. Your painting will appear more professional, too!

Tips for Beginners

  • Always use paper that is 90lb (200gsm) or higher to ensure your picture doesn’t warp or buckle.
  • For this project, try to stay in sequence. If you wait until the sky and clouds dry before you add new paint at the horizon, you will avoid mixing the sky and the horizon together. This will make it easier to distinguish between the two.
  • After the painting is done, try adding in some details with watercolor pencils to give your work more interest.
  • When adding layers of paint, it is important to wait until one layer is completely dry before adding another.
  • Don’t mix too many colors on the paper or it will look messy in the end.

You did it! You painted a stunning landscape using watercolors. Along the way, you learned some techniques to take your watercolor painting to the next level. You’ll find that painting with watercolors can be addictive. You can put a watercolor pad, a small watercolor paint set, and a paintbrush in your bag or backpack and take your creativity on the go for painting urban landscapes in the park or to make quick paintings of people on the bus or in a coffee shop. Take them to the beach and paint beautiful seascapes, too.

We hope this blog about easy watercolor paintings has given you some inspiration and new ideas for your future endeavors in art.

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