Watercolor painting – Foggy morning Clarence River

Here is last week’s class watercolor painting. It is based on a photo I took one foggy morning of a couple of sail boats on the Clarence River, before a watercolor workshop I was running in Grafton, NSW. I especially liked the mist on the distant shore which is the subject I wanted to teach my students. Over a 30 minute period the scene went from full early morning sunlight to a misty landscape and back again. It was quite magical to behold. My class had recently done one painting of a misty scene of The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains so I wanted them to do this one as reinforcement of what they had already learned.

Whenever I see a scene like this with lots of soft edges and muted colors I feel compelled to have a go at painting it. This a perfect watercolor painting for me. It is full of wet on wet passages with a small number of wet on dry hard edges. The key to this type of painting is getting the tones and edges right.

Foggy morning on Clarence River in Grafton watercolor painting

Foggy morning on Clarence River in Grafton watercolor painting

There is a hill in the distance with fog between it and the distant river bank. This meant that I had to have soft edges below the tree line on the distant hill to give the impression of low lying fog.

Watercolor painting steps

The basic steps for painting this foggy morning scene are as follows:

  1. Paint the sky down to the waterline with a very weak watercolor wash. This should be the lightest area of your painting. It is better to go too light rather than too strong with your sky tones. Notice how the soft could pattern leads the eye into the painting. Let it dry thoroughly.
  2. Paint the distant tree-line, soften the bottom edges to give impression of mist or fog.
  3. With stronger watercolors paint the distant shoreline.
  4. I then painted the trees on the left hand side. First was the lighter distant tree on the right of the left hand group of trees. Then the stronger toned foreground tree was added. While this tree was wet I painted the river bank below it. I scratched a few light  edges for posts and parts of the shoreline.
  5. I now painted the river, making sure to drop in the reflections of the distant bank in a wet on wet manner.
  6. The watercolor painting is finished off with the boats, their reflections as well as the reeds in the water and the close river bank reflection.

Remember to keep a close eye on the tones and edges of your watercolor painting. Objects in the distance will be lighter toned and softer edged than those closer. This is even more important with misty scenes like this.

Here is my original reference photo I took in case you would like to have a go at it.

Reference photo of foggy morning on river with sail boats

Foggy morning on river with sail boats at Grafton for watercolor demonstration

Foggy morning on river with sail boats at Grafton for watercolor demonstration

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