Thursday, January 15, 2015

Day 15: Hill Country Improv

"Hill Country Improv", watercolor, 10" x 14"
I created this painting today as an example for a watercolor group I teach in Brentwood.  It's an imagined scene inspired by Northern California backcountry.  Here's a visual diary of my process:

Thumbnail sketches:  Designing the structure, playing with options

Here's the composition I chose, enlarged as a charcoal sketch.  I decided to crop it a little when I sketched it in pencil on my watercolor paper. 

First pass:  I started with an overall wet-in-wet wash, all light values and soft edges.  To get the look of grassy textures I spattered paint and clear water in the foreground areas.  As this stage started to dry I was able to add some middle-value elements with firmer edges and scrape in some branches.

Second pass:  While the paper was still slightly damp I layered in the darker tree shapes, looking for an interesting balance of positive and negative shapes.
Final pass:  After the first layer was completely dry I came in with my darkest accents and lifted out the lightest lights.  Lifting worked well with this palette of earth colors (Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue.)


  1. The diversity in your sketches is remarkable. Really interesting to see the composition come together.

    1. Thanks, Laurel! I love to draw, and it's fun inventing your own world.