How to Paint Landscapes in Watercolour – The Old Mill

Skill Level : 2 Intermediate

Medium : Watercolour Painting

Subject : Landscapes

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 2 hours 05 minutes

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Class Description

A relic of the past, this old water operated mill still stands proud as a reminder that, unfortunately, modern technology has taken over. In this lesson you will capture and paint the mill in watercolour for posterity.

In this lesson you will learn

1.  How to simplify the background
2.  How to make the building stand out from the scene
3.  How to render the stone wall
4.  How to change the distracting foreground
5.  And more …

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Class Tutorial

Mask the light areas

With masking fluid, mask off all the areas that need to be kept light.

Paint the sky

Then, with a blue/purple mix, float in the sky area. There is no need to keep it smooth as there are a lot of tree foliage in the background. Darken up the lower area where there is less sunlight.

Block in the tree foliage

With a dark green mix work in the dark lower area and drop in patches of the green into the still slightly damp background. The paint should then merge softly to form a misty like feeling in the distance. Also while still damp, but not wet, drop in some light yellow for leaf clumps in the sunlight.

Paint the darkest area

Make a very dark mix of Blue and Burnt Sienna and begin to paint the deep shadow areas.  You can now begin to notice the areas where the masking fluid was applied.  Just by adding these darks, before the lighter areas are applied, the picture starts to take shape.  For impact, a painting should have lots of tonal ranges.  Do all this work with a small round brush.  Add the contrasts to the right side and then do the same to the building.

Add the background

Paint the background with light Burnt Sienna and drop in some green on the left side.  Lift out the beams and at the water wheel.

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Paint the foreground bushes

Add a light brownish green to the foreground foliage and while still slightly damp but not wet, drop in some of the previous dark mix for the shadow areas in the shrubbery.  For the highlights, pick up some Lemon Yellow from the pan or tube and dab in the sunlit leaf clumps.

Paint the tree shadows

With a light blue/grey mix dab in the tree shadows on the wall and paint the shadow side of the mill.  Notice that it gets slightly lighter towards the bottom due to the ground surface reflecting light upwards.  It is also slightly darker along the edge of the building.

Paint the roof

With a darker mix paint the roof.  It will be darker on the left side due to the trees on the left.

Paint the tree trunks

Completely dry the painting and then remove all the masking fluid, using a piece of masking tape.  Use the very light shadow mix and fill in all the trunks and branches with the small round brush. When that is finished add all the darker branches and twigs with a dark mix.  Do some on the other side, not forgetting the shadow of the tree.  Add the dark shadow on the right hand side of all the major trunks and branches.

Add the general shadows

With the small brush add in all the other minor shadows into what you have painted so far.  When that is done, work on the small bridge.  With a light Burnt Sienna paint the wheel and ground marks and shadows on the right hand side.

Add texture to the mill wall

With the small brush add in all the other minor shadows into what you have painted so far.  When that is done, work on the small bridge.  With a light Burnt Sienna paint the wheel and ground marks and shadows on the right hand side.

Paint the grass

Add the foreground ground colours and then begin stroking in the masonry wall.  Don't paint the bricks individually, just a few random strokes to give the impression of the blocks.  Note the shadow giving the illusion of a hole in the wall.

Paint the detail work on the mill

We can now complete the detail around the door and the railing of the small bridge.  Tidy up the water wheel and add the small wall at the back of the building.  Deepen up the shadows in the foreground and against the small wall.  Now that the foreground is dry, we can add the small leafless tree and add the shadows to the wall blocks.  Notice the different tonal ranges in the wall.

With the small brush, add the smaller details around the door and roof area.

Finish off by painting in the impression of brickwork on the walls.  Again give only the impression.  Add a few different coloured bricks to give it character.

About Dennis Clark

Dennis has been drawing and painting for most of his life (since 1944) and shortly after that in watercolours. During WWII there were no art books so to speak, so he had to teach himself through experimentation, sweat and tears. He teaches the following mediums online - Watercolours, Pastels, Acrylics, Pencil, Pastels, Pen and Ink and Oils.
Read more about Dennis Clark

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