This watercolor painting of sheep was completed recently by my class. The week before I had conducted a workshop in the country and brought back some good reference photos. I was staying on a farm with loads of excellent painting subjects.

As we hadn’t painted sheep before I thought this would be a good topic for a class watercolor painting.

Often we take photos which appear to be uninteresting or have just too much information to be inspiring. This was certainly a problem I used to have when I first starting watercolor painting. Now days I see paintings in almost every scene. In part this is because I have no concerns with editing a photo or scene by moving things around or adjusting the time of the day or other light conditions. One of my regular quotes is “Never let reality get in the way of a good painting!” I have also found that if you take a large image and crop it smaller you can often find a number of interesting paintings within the original.

Cropping your photos for watercolor painting

Below is the original reference photo I took.

Sheep on Australian farm reference photo for watercolor painting

Sheep on Australian farm reference photo

While not a bad photo there is a lot of information in it which could cause some difficulty for a beginner artist. I usually simplify this type of scene by asking myself just what message do I want to get across in my watercolor painting.

As I wanted to cover how to draw and paint sheep this was easy. I still however wanted to keep the feel of being on a farm as part of my painting.

The next photo is my cropped version which needed very little adjustment prior to painting.

Sheep detail 2 cropped from original photo for watercolor painting

Sheep detail 2 cropped from original photo

I could now focus on the sheep and I have given the scene better balance. Other than moving the tree a little to the right the painting can proceed pretty much as you see it in the photo.

The finished painting can be seen below. I am currently producing a proper step by step demonstration article on this which will be posted in a little while. Once completed I will come back and edit this post to direct you to the demonstration watercolor painting.

Completed painting of sheep

Watercolor painting of sheep grazing

Watercolor painting of sheep grazing