How to Paint a Misty Lake in Acrylic

Skill Level : 2 Intermediate

Medium : Acrylic Painting

Subject : Landscapes

Tutor : Dennis Clark

Class Length : 1 hour 42 minutes

Avg Rating :

Silver Level or Higher Class

Class Description

Early morning scenes have a special atmosphere to them. The normal hustle and bustle has not started and the quietness is only broken by the sound of birds as they greet the dawn. In this scene we can almost hear the honking of the geese and duck as they come flying into their favourite haunt.

In this lesson you will learn:

1 How to crop for a suitable composition
2 How to add life to the painting
3 How to position the birds for compositional balance
4 How to depict the mist in the distance
5 The colouring and tonal ranges for this morning scene

Latest Reviews

Great class Dennis, great brush techniques. Thank you so much for the class, it was very informative. I always enjoy your classes.


Great class! Thank you Dennis for a thorough explanation of painting and color mixing. I watch this class to incorporate the morning fog into my next painting. Thanks again, Doina

Doina Craciun

Short Class Video

Class Tutorial

Painting the distant trees


This is early in the morning and misty, so the sky will only be a very light blue color.

Start the distant trees with a medium Blue/Purple mix and then with a touch of white, we can lightly blend this in and soften up the top edge and tap in the profile of the line of trees. Tap in some darker color for the tree shadows at the lake edge.

Painting the lake


The color of the lake is a slightly darker shade than the sky. There is some light mist on the water surface so paint this effect where the tree line meet the waters edge.

The foreground water is in shade and finish off the mist with some of the cast shadows and lightly smooth over the surface of the water.

Add the deeper shade, which is cast by the trees, to the water, and a little bit darker lower down.

Painting the trees


Add some Burnt Sienna to the dark Blue/Purple mix and begin blocking in the trees. They are in deep shade because the light is coming from the left. Use the edge of the brush to tap in the branches against the sky. Leave skyholes in them.

The closer tree is even darker than the previous one. Leave a lighter patch for portion of the embankment, and add some sunlight falling on it. Show some hints of taller grass.

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Painting the waters edge


With a small round brush begin to paint in the edge of the embankment, also showing some small stones, and highlights on the grasses. The color used is Yellow Ochre and White.

Painting the tree highlights and foreground


Tree highlight -
We are able to see at least some detail in the shadow, so add them in with a small flat brush and Yellow Ochre. A few much darker patches brings more character to the tree.

Block in the foreground with the large flat brush and darken up at the water's edge. Continue on the right and roughly paint the branches in silhouette.

Tree highlights -
We need to add more highlights to this tree. Paint them in to show the different boughs and becoming brighter in the foreground.

Foreground -
Pull some of this color as horizontal ripples into the water, using the cutting edge of the brush to do this. We can now add more detail to these shrub branches and also add the highlights with the flat of the brush. Touch up the branches with more detail and then tap in the warmer colors with the end of the large brush. Add some green to round this area off.

Adding detail to the foreground


Also add a few touches of green to the tree. I'm using the side of a 12mm (1/2”) hardware bristle brush to tap in all the grass in this area. The highlights of this grassy area are painted in using a bristle fan brush. Add some of the warmer colour (Burnt Sienna) to the grassy slope.

For interest in this area we can paint in a few bushes and other plants. Add more detail at the very bottom and do some general touching up on the left of the painting.

Painting in the ducks


Paint a few more ripples to the water and block, in silhouette, the duck on the water plus its reflection. Add in the other duck as well as a few in the distance.

Lastly, paint the duck flying in to greet the other ducks. I've decided to add another one. Finish off by painting the white ripples at the ducks on the water.

Final painting


About Dennis Clark

Read more about Dennis Clark

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