Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Walk in the Woods ... Step by Step Painting of a Landscape

My reference photo - one of the spots I often pass during walks in the woods.

I had a request from the class I teach to do something very loose and different.  I started this part in class as a demonstration.  I masked out the stream, and did two very wet, sprayed washes with aureolin, alizarin crimson, quin. burnt orange and cobalt blue. I was following Nita Engle's techniques for creating a natural-looking landscape. Her book is called "How to Make a Watercolor Paint Itself", and it is full of great techniques that she uses to create very beautiful and natural paintings.

Later, at home, I did this practice run before attempting the splattering technique. 

Ready to go - masked off with old pieces of watercolor paper, mixed colors off to the side.  I used a mix of alizarin and quin. gold, another of gold, alizarin and cobalt to get a subdued green, and a third of the same pigments to make a brown.

This was the effect of the splattering. I then judiciously sprayed with water to encourage the colors to bleed together a bit.

My work space - I had to protect the walls from all the flying paint.

I removed the masking, and this is what it looked like after all the splattering and spraying.

I mixed up a black to paint the trees. Then did a thin wash over the stream with indanthrone mixed with some of the black. Last, I painted the reflections of the trees in the water. I very much like using these techniques - they are not difficult, and really give an extremely natural air to the painting.

Here's Maggie this morning, stopping off for a drink from the pool cover. Somehow, water  always tastes better here than from a bowl.

OK, you Easterners - sorry for this!!! We are having an early Spring. Birds are in full song, along with the tree frogs, and trees and bushes are opening their blossoms. The nights are still cold ... -3C, but the afternoons are glorious and warm. Yes, I have been out there in a t-shirt, and Bruno is not wearing blankets! He is shedding a lot, hair everywhere ... in food, in toothpaste tube???, on my paintings ... can't see a spot where there is no horse hair!!!

Thank you so much for dropping by! 


  1. It was soo exciting to see how techniques and how you make magic happen! You are the best watercolor artist in the world!
    The painting is coming to life. You make it look easy,,, my mommy who does not paint,,, tried to so a painting,, she said its very hard to make it look good.

  2. Very beautiful technique! And nice image of drinking Maggie :) good week, Arianna

  3. Really amazing! So loose and beautyful. After you splattered colour and sprayed with water; did you tilt the paper any to make the color run?

  4. Enjoy your Spring weather. I'm sure ours will be along shortly. Or at least I hope so.

  5. Wonderful to see you use some of the techniques of the book. I love the splattering! Enjoy spring, here we seem to have a monsoon.

  6. Hello dear Kathryn,
    Oh how I love this painting...Thank you so much for sharing the demonstration.. I truly enjoyed it!
    Your rose is just beautiful! Mine are blooming also.. One advantage of Southern California.. Although yesterday we did get some much needed rain.. .Today the sun is shinning and birds are singing.
    Wishing you a lovely week

  7. We are loving this splattering technique. Your painting is coming along beautifully! Your camellia is just beautiful ☺

  8. I have Nita Engle's book and you did a terrific job of using her techniques. Thank you for sharing your WIP.

  9. The result of this technic is gorgeous, this is the kind of landscapes I like, so free and natural, love it ! xx

  10. Hi Kathryn, back from 'flu. This technique looks like fun, thanks for spelling it out I'd haver never guessed.

    We are having glorious weather in West Wales - the sunniest winter on record here

  11. Hello Kathryn:) I also used the splashes in a painting a time ago. The paint was on the wallpaper and curtains, but not on my painting. You have thought about it better:) I like the result of your painting really great. I was totally amazed. What a beautiful painting!! And ... this weekend spring also starts here: higher temperatures. Yippie!! xxx