Farming – Fairly simple watercolor exercise


For this painting I actually use six different colors. That’s unusually many for me. Two browns: burnt sienna and burnt umber, it’s fine to use just one of these (preferably burnt sienna) if you want to use fewer colours.

Some cold red is also needed, I used quinacridone rose myself. A blue color is included, I chose phthalo but any non-granulating blue color will work, for example Prussian blue or Indantron.

You also need a yellow color and possibly a green one. My yellow color is nickel dioxin yellow, but you can use any you like. My green color is phthalo, you can leave it out if you want and mix your light green with blue and yellow instead.

Step 1

A dramatic sky is the first thing to be painted. Start by wetting the sky with water and then paint with a fairly dark blue-gray color (blue+brown and possibly a little red) nice cloud formations. If you do this fluidly, your brown will probably separate slightly from your blue and fine differences in tone will appear. Try not to paint the whole sky. The light parts are just as important as the dark parts. Feel free to keep a light tone down towards the horizon. Paint around the building.

When the sky is finished you let it dry before you start painting the landscape, for the light green I used green+yellow but you can use blue+yellow if you want, your light green color will be a little less pure in that case but it works anyway . Small dark green trees in the background, do not make these very pure in color, they are far away. If you want, also paint a barn (or two) on the right in the background.

Step 2

Paint the dark field in the middle of the subject. The color for this is mixed with burnt umber (or sienna) plus your blue color, if the mixture is too greenish, mix in some red color as well. I chose to make this surface a little darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. You can do the reverse if you want, but not the whole field in the same shade.

Save a part in the middle which will later become green grass. It’s nice if you can scumble the green grass. Also remember to save grass and other irregularities at the bottom of the brown field. Paint a bush on the side of the house with an unclear green paint mix.

Step 3

Start with the house, paint two different reddish browns (should imitate Falu red color), one light (almost white) and one slightly darker. These colors must be painted completely flat, they are just a base color to add shadow on later. Leave the roof unpainted.

Burnt sienna is used as a base tone in the near field. This is just a light base for the darker colors that come later. I made this surface quite light and added water here and there so that it is not completely smooth. Feel free to save out (Scumbling) some unpainted light small and larger spots here and there.

When the freshly painted light brown color has dried, paint light green on all the grass in the foreground. Both on the dark field and the bright one at the bottom of the picture. I used phthalo green with a bit of yellow in it but it works just as well with the blue color plus yellow.

Step 4

Add shade to the gable of the house. Blue and brown mixed. If you want, make some lines for boards on the gable when the house has dried.

The field in the foreground is painted last. This step is the one that all less experienced watercolor painters have concerns with, because it has to be painted a little hastily. Fast and rough brush strokes with different brown colors, everything from almost orange to black brown. Save details, here and there, that should represent straws and irregularities on the surface. Let the different browns mix with each other on the paper.

Feel free to make smaller brush marks at the back and larger, rougher ones at the bottom of the field, it helps to create a good perspective in the painting.

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