Watercolor painting – the distant hill and trees

Painting the distant hill with watercolor

The background hill in this watercolor painting has to be painted quite light to retain the feeling of light in the painting.

I  mixed a number of colors for this. Cad Orange, for the top of the hill, some Cobalt Turquoise and Aureolin with a small amount of Raw Umber for the bulk of the hill. I also mixed some French Ultramarine and Raw Umber to hint at some distant trees. A very week mix of Permanent Alizarin Crimson was used to warm up parts of the bottom of the hill.

Once the starting colors were mixed I started with the Cad Orange at the top and then, without cleaning my brush, picked up the greenish mix and painted the rest of the hill.

While this mix was still wet (had a shine on it) I dropped in some of the Alizarin and the hints at distant trees with much thicker French Ultramarine and Raw Umber paint so the would not flow very much.

Some adjustments were made to paint strengths and color variations as I painted to give the hill a little bit of visual interest. A few lines were also placed on the hill to give the impression of undulations on the hillside of my watercolor painting.

Let this dry completely!

Painting distant hill in watercolor landscape painting. Golden sun lit hill.
Painting distant hill in watercolor landscape painting

How to tackle the trees in this watercolor painting

I started by painting the trees on the right. The foliage was painted with three tones of a green mixture. Weather it is watercolor painting you do or another medium, three tones allow you to add form to the objects you are painting. A light, medium and dark tone. One was predominately Cobalt Turquoise with Aureolin and a little bit of Raw Umber, the second was the same mix with a small amount of French Ultramarine and the third was just French Ultramarine and Raw Umber. The average tone for these mixes was about that of the sheds.

For the trunks I used a some French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna. I painted the trunks while the foliage is still wet so that some of the trunk paint mixed with the foliage color.

The foliage was painted with the side of my size 10 round brush as these shapes are not very large.

Note the trees on the far right were even lighter in tone (by adding more water to the mix) than the one on the left of the group – though this is not so obvious in my photo of the step.

I let this stage dry fully before moving on to the two main trees on the left hand side of the painting.

These two foreground trees were painted with the same colors but less water in the paint mixtures (stronger tones) to help bring them forward in the picture plane. I used the side of a size 12 brush for the foliage of these.

I used the brighter colors in the section of foliage that the sun was shining through and darker and cooler colors further away. In the bright area of the tree foliage I even added a little bit of Cad Orange with more water to my light green mix to lighten this section further. I made sure to leave plenty of bird holes in the foliage to show up the distant light. I wasn’t happy with the spacing between the two main trees so I placed a more distant one between the two and nearer the one on the right.

Watercolor painting middle distant trees with watercolor
Figure 7: Painting middle distant trees with watercolor
Painting foreground gum trees with watercolor paints
Figure 8: Foreground gum trees with watercolor

I am now able to move on to painting the shadows and final finishing touches for this watercolor painting.

Continue to: Painting the shadows and detail in finished watercolor painting