Our painting is going to be a very basic landscape of some trees on a river at sunset.
So let’s get started! We will roughly sketch things before we begin painting. To begin with, decide where your horizon line is and draw a line there. I did mine 1/3rd from the bottom of the page.
Now roughly outline the trees. You don’t need to do things in too much detail, just a rough guide.
Now we will begin painting the trees with a wash. A wash is when you paint an entire area with a thin wet coat of colour.
So give the entire area of the trees a wash with light green.
Drying time is important. If you do the next coat before it’s totally dry they will bleed together.
Paint the reflections of the trees in the lake with a light green wash too. They should be the same shape as the trees but upside down.
Once those sections are dry it’s time to work on the sunset. Cover the entire sky area with water and then paint a line of yellow at the horizon.
Mix in a line of pink and make sure you have enough water for them to smoosh together.
Continue the gradient up to purple and blue.
Continue the blue up to the top of the paper.
Repeat the same wash of sky down into the river backwards for the reflection. Water makes things appear distorted so make the gradient of colours much shorter.
You should have something like this…
Now let’s build on the trees. Use a more vibrant mix of the light green and begin with tiny strokes to make triangular pine tree shapes. You don’t need to colour each entire tree in, just little brush strokes will do.
Build the trees up slowly, there is no “undo” in water colours!
Continue building and consider as you paint where the light would be coming from. The only light in this scene comes from the sunset so the side of the trees which is nearer to the edges of the paper will be darker.
Don’t forget to paint in some more detail to the reflections as well. You don’t want a large amount of tiny strokes like on the actual trees, just some spotchy areas to represent shade in the water ripples.
And remember that on the other side, the light is coming from a different direction.
Once that’s dry we will add in some highlights with a bright yellow. This matches the colour of the sunset. You can also continue the sunset gradient in the tree highlights for a very good look.
So to paint the highlights, add some small strokes of yellow on the tops and sides of the trees closest to the sunset.
Make sure to do the other side as well and add splotches to the reflections to match.
Now begin to add the shadows. Start with a darker shade of green.
I really like to use burnt sienna as a shadow colour because it gives a more realistic and deeper tone than black does. I almost never use actual black for shading.
Now the trees are done, it’s time to layer some cloud coverage on the skyline. I like to layer some with each of the gradient colours.
And that’s about it for the painting part.
So over here you have smooshy reflections…
Very thin and fairly undefined layers of cloud coverage…
And smooth water…
If you want you can add in more details using a white gel pen.
And there you go! It’s a simple landscape that you can build on to make something awesome!
These are the basic steps that I use for most of my paintings, you can take the techniques and use them for just about anything.
Yay for completing a full painting! Hope you guys found something useful in this and let me know how you go painting your own landscapes!