Watercolor painting of reflections on river

Watercolor reflections

The watercolor painting is nearly complete now. It is time to paint the rocks in the water and the reflections of these rocks and all the trees.

First I painted the rocks in the water with Burnt Sienna and some French Ultramarine. I made sure the rocks were not just flat shapes but had light, middle and dark tones to give them some form. I did not worry about their reflections at this time.

The rocks were allow to dry thoroughly while I worked on the mixing of the watercolors for the next stage.

I started by mixing a range of greens similar to the tree foliage. As the trees in my painting are quite dark in tone I made the reflections a little lighter. This happens because reflections mix with the local color of the water therefore the lighter tone of the water reduces the strength of the reflected tone of these dark trees.

Once I had mixed my greens and was happy with their tonal strength and color I pre wet the river portion of my watercolor paper up to the sand line and around the rocks.

Pre-wet the river area around the rocks before dropping in the watercolor reflections of trees and rocks
Pre-wet the river area around the rocks before dropping in the reflections of trees and rocks

As I did not want the paint in the reflections to run down my paper too quickly I altered the angle of my easel to about ten degrees. In this way I could better control the movement of the wet reflections I would be dropping in.

I then began on the left hand side of my painting dropping in the colors in vertical strokes below the objects that are being reflected. You may need to give your painting a light spray with a fine mist press spray bottle to keep the water area wet enough to keep working on it. Do not let the shine disappear from the water area or you will start to create watercolor mud and lose its beautiful transparency.

While the water area was still wet I picked up some Burnt Sienna with my brush and quickly ran some “dry brush” stokes along the water’s edge to create the impression of wet sand and to give a more interesting edge to the region where the water and sand meet.

When the reflections are done I let the paper dry till it was barely damp and at that point I lifted off some of the paint at the water’s edge with a round brush from which most of the water has been squeezed out, this acts as a reflection of the sandy shore.

Let this dry thoroughly!

Watercolor painting of reflections of trees on river surface. Color dropped in on wet river area.
Watercolor painting of reflections of trees on river surface

I then rewet the rocks and the area under them and quickly dropped in their reflections using Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. Rewetting the rocks allowed some of the color from the reflection to bleed up the rock and make its connection with its reflection more real. While this area was wet I dragged some almost pure paint (French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna again) along the edge were the rock and reflection meet. This further enhances the connection of the rock with its reflection.

The last step when painting these rocks in the river was to lift some of the watercolor paint from the reflection with a barely damp round watercolor brush.

Watercolor painting of rocks in river with their reflections
Watercolor painting of rocks in river with their reflections

The river and reflections are now complete and all that remains to finish this watercolor painting is to add the animal life and shore rocks, branches, etc.

Continue to: Painting rocks and branches on sandy river bank