Tea Gardens sunrise watercolor painting

This is a class demonstration watercolor painting titled “Tea Gardens Sunrise over the Myall river, New South Wales”.

I was attracted to this scene by the light reflected on the water of the Myall River at Tea Gardens in New South Wales. Watercolor is a great medium for capturing light so decided to do this as a class painting. I simplified and made other adjustments to the photograph below to improve its composition and also to make it work better as a watercolor lesson.

My key focus was to teach my students how to create a feeling of space and how to capture the early morning light reflecting off the water surface.

Sunrise over Myall River at Tea Gardens reference for watercolor painting

Figure 1: Light reflections on Myall river, Tea Gardens

The main adjustments I made were:

  • Raised the horizon to focus on the light sparkle on the water
  • Lighten the sky
  • Remove all boats except the one little house boat
  • Remove foreground grass and car

The next step, after making my design decisions, was to do a very simple drawing of the scene on my cold press watercolor paper.

Pencil drawing Tea Gardens Sunrise for watercolor painting

Figure 2: Drawing prior to watercolor painting.

My next step was to paint the sky with my watercolor paints and while this was wet to paint the distant hills. I worked with progressively stronger tones (more pigment, less water) as I moved closer to the foreground.

The land closest to the viewer was completed after the sky area had dried so I could produce hard edged shapes against the sky.

Notice how the land jutting into the river is basically  horizontal where it connects with the river. This stops the river area from looking like it is flowing up hill.

I let this dry completely.

Watercolor painting of distant land on Myall River watercolor painting

Figure 3: Painting sky and distant river sides with watercolor

The water in this scene is painted with the side of my round watercolor brush. I used quick movements to create a dry brush stroke which gives the impression of light on the water.

The distant water is lighter (thinner mix) and bluer than the foreground which is stronger in tone (more paint) and slightly warmer – there is a little Burnt Sienna in the mixture.

The sparkle on the water is just left white paper.

After the water area is fully dry I painted the house boat and then its reflection. As the boat is very light colored the reflection has to be a little darker.

This watercolor painting was finished with the addition of various bollards and poles in the water and a few strategically placed birds in the sky and over the river.

Completed watercolor painting “Tea Gardens Sunrise”

Watercolor Paintng Tea Gardens sunrise with house boat on Myall River

Figure 4: Watercolor painting of house boat on water with sunlit reflections “Tea Gardens Sunrise by Joe Cartwright”

This article is not meant to be a full demonstration but more a reference for my students to use. You should be able to understand some of my watercolor painting technique for this type of scene however. I do have a similar and more detailed demonstration here: simple watercolor painting demonstration of boats and water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *