Watercolor Landscape Initial Wash

Initial wash for watercolor landscape

It is important that your under painting for a watercolor landscape has a correct tonal value for each item in the landscape. By this I mean your sky should usually have the lightest tone,  then the distant land with the foreground land having the strongest tone. These are all horizontal shapes. The same would apply to vertical shapes such as hills, trees, buildings etc. The verticals would be lighter in the distance and stronger in tone as the objects come forward.

I mixed sufficient watercolor pigment, with the correct water mixture for each of, the sky (cobalt Blue), distant fields (Cobalt Turquoise and Cadmium Yellow) and foreground (Burnt Sienna, Raw Sienna, Cadmium Red). This has to be done in one go so you do not need to go back and strengthen the under wash later – which can cause unwanted mud. I washed the sky down to ground level and left a bead of pigment at the bottom of the wash. Into this bead I laid in the middle ground wash of a light green colour (I was careful to leave some white areas unpainted for sparkle), I warmed this wash with Burnt Sienna as it move down towards the river. On the right hand side, which is the foreground, I painted with thick paint of warm colours and then added additional texture with splattering of water, and predominately warm reds and some blues. I left the river unpainted, though I softened the edges a little so when I put the river in it will give a more natural transition rather than a hard edge. I left this to thoroughly dry.

Watercolor landscape under painting for Freemans Reach landscape demonstration
Watercolor landscape under painting for landscape demonstration

Continue to: Painting Distant Hills with Watercolor   Return to:  Step 1 of Freeman’s Reach watercolor landscape painting