Watercolor Tutorial: Painting a Landscape

Step-by-step advice on painting a landscape in watercolor

Watercolor tutorial landscape painting
Watercolor tutorial landscape painting
Kinder Scout, Peak District
Kinder Scout, Peak District
Photo by the author

Make a sketch first

As a useful exercise, I tend to make a quick pencil sketch of the scene before beginning the main painting. I only spend about 10 minutes on this, since the purpose is to roughly plot out the structure of the painting rather than get pulled in by the details.

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First steps

With a good sense of the layout of the picture, I sketched out the design on watercolor paper. I like to use a nice and heavy paper with a weight of 600gsm/300lb, which is not only full of texture but also more tolerant to washes (laying down broad areas of paint) and lifting-out (removing paint).

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Finding the right tone

Moving down the page, the colors get richer in order add a sense of movement and depth to the landscape.

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Fulfilling the composition

With most of the hillside painted in, I began to add details. With watercolor, it’s often a matter of selecting which details to include. Painted too fussily and the picture can become clogged up. The medium works best when used with its natural translucent characteristics, so loose brush strokes — giving a general “impression” — tend to work best.

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Watercolor tutorial landscape painting
Watercolor tutorial landscape painting

Final details

The last few details include painting the sky — which I wanted to keep as simple as possible by adding a Cobalt Blue wash — and the shadows around the rocks.

Watercolor tutorial landscape painting
Watercolor tutorial landscape painting
Peak District (2019) by Christopher P Jones.
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Art historian and art critic, writer, artist. Author of “How to Read Paintings” https://books2read.com/u/bw7vNY

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