For today’s video, I chose to go for a luminous
color combo and also challenge myself to paint a beautiful lake in snow with a lot of the
trees nearby reflecting in the water and even though it can look intimidating to paint this
kind of thing, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought so I’m going to show you how I did
that and also walk you through the whole painting step by step. There’s only going to be two
colors so it’s not going to be a lot of back and forth between colors and instead, we can
focus on each element, sky, trees, snow and water.
Painting this watercolor lake motivated me to explore painting water more in depth, so
I’m really hoping you will feel the same way by the end of this video, especially if you
feel a bit fearful to get into painting water, reflection and light in this way.
Hi, this is Francoise, welcome to my channel or welcome back if you’re a returning subscriber
! Step one for this watercolor painting for
beginners is to gather a 5 by 7 piece of watercolor paper, some masking tape, your paints and
some paintbrushes. You can customize this as you want but if
you prefer to see what I am using here, there are links to all my supplies in the description.
In any case, I always recommend 100% cotton paper, cold pressed, and for this particular
painting I think a couple of round brushes that can get to a fine tip will do perfectly.
The fine tip is important because as you may have notice at the beginning of the video,
my trees are really tiny and there’s also a fence that requires small and precise strokes.
So, if you don’t have exactly the right type of brush, don’t let it stop you from painting
this tutorial, but you may find it harder to paint those trees and fence the way I did.
And for colors I chose to go for payne’s gray and Indian red. You can substitute those for
indigo, or a blue mixed with black, and for indian red you can pick a color like a brown
with a bit of red or even orange although orange alone may make it look a little bit
more flashy compared to the shade I’m using here.
There is no sketch except for the horizon line I traced at about a third of the page
starting from the bottom part, so with that said, we can get straight into the painting
! Step two is going be the sky and for that
I picked up my large round brush that I always use for backgrounds and I decided to work
wet on dry. Usually, skies are made wet in wet to avoid harsh lines and get a good sky
look but it’s difficult to get intense colors when it dries, unless you go back and add
layers, which is what I usually do. So here I wanted to make it super easy and
go right in on dry paper with my indian red shade. The only thing you need to be careful
of is to spread the paint fast because a wet on dry layer of paint dries way faster than
paint applied wet in wet. This technique right here creates beautiful
effects I noticed because when I spread my paint I sometimes add a bit too much water
on my brush and it creates these whiter patches or even blooms, which in the case of sky I
find pretty cool. Blooms are something I rarely do on purpose,
but here I created a very obvious one. I did this to suggest the sun rising, it needed
to be visible and adding water to my brush, then pressing my brush onto my paper in that
spot gave me that perfect bright sunrays look I was hoping for.
Before the paint dries, I’m adding a bit of Payne’s gray with my small brush. You can
do it whichever way you like and use whichever brush you like but here I wanted a specific
look for my clouds to suggest an early and peaceful morning, so I made them really thin
and I kept it to just a few of them because I don’t want my sky to look like a storm is
coming. While the sky was drying, I gave a slight
tone to the snow with a very light wash of Payne’s gray and then I added a little bit
of Payne’s gray here and there and even a bit of indian red to make the painting more
balanced with colors otherwise it would just be a bunch of indian red on top, and gray
at the bottom, plus we can imagine the sky reflecting in the snow a little bit too. You
will notice later I also added a bit of indian red to my trees for the same reason, to create
a harmony of colors within the entire painting. If your sky is not completely dry when you
paint the snow, leave a tiny paper white line between sky and snow.
By now the sky should be dry, if not, I’d suggest to wait since we’re going to take
care of the lake and we don’t want it to bleed into the sky and into the nice bloom we have
created. Here I started with a base layer of indian
red, we want to keep it light because there’s going to be more over it later, and we also
need to use the lifting technique to recreate the light of the sun . For that, you will
need to dip a clean brush into your water jar, squeeze enough water out of it that it
becomes almost entirely dry, but not quite, and then lift the color you just applied on
your paper, before it dries, otherwise it’s already too late and the lifting technique
won’t work well and will leave a harsh line or even a bloom.
Next I used a heat gun to dry out the paint on the lake because I wanted to get started
on the trees in the background and doing this on dry paper is again important, unless you
don’t want your trees to be as crisp as mine but then your sky would need to be a little
damp too. So in this case it’s better to have it all dry.
I used a paintbush that comes to a very fine tip here, you don’t need yours to be as precise
as this one to manage the trees but if you have anything that comes close that’s just
great ! I started with the top of the tree, going
downwards and I added a little bit of indian red before each tree dried. You may be noticing
my trees are irregular in shape, length and some of them are a bit crooked too to create
this sense of realism even though this piece is not really meant to look extremely realistic.
After I was done with the trees, I painted their reflection in the water, wet on dry.
And this was the first time I ever did it this way and I’m really happy with the way
it looks so I think I’m just going to dig that a little more !
I also painted the reflection of some more trees we’ll come to later, and I made that
darker since they’re closer. I forgot to mention that where the sun in
rising, you should be careful to make the trees and the reflection there much lighter.
I kept on going, adding details to the water to make it look more real, and again I made
it a lot darker towards the front. I tried to alternate and paint some thin lines and
also larger areas to suggest movement of the water. I think what matters the most here
is to make sure you’re not painting too many of these, and it’s always hard to know where
to stop, and also paint these shapes so they’re not all the same, act on the intensity of
the color as well and layer darker lines for instance on top of lighter areas, and finally
remember the sun is reflecting in the middle of the lake and so these lines will be much
less visible there, so there it’s best to keep it minimal and very light.
Next up I painted the trees in the foreground and I used the same brush and the same technique
I did previously with the far back trees. The only major difference here is the size
of those trees, they’re going to be bigger since they’re closer to us, and what’s different
is also the color value, the intensity. I used a darker wash of Payne’s grey to make
sure these trees pop and look close. And again I made their shape irregular and scattered
them unevenly. I chose to darken the shadow and reflection
in the water below, but unless you find that yours needs it too, that’s optional and this
was mainly me pushing the experimentation further because like I said, I’m getting into
painting water some more, so I think I still have a lot to experiment with !
Now this is my favorite part, finishing the painting with the details !
I don’t think I mentionned it, but there’s actually no reference for this, I put these
elements together and I tried several compositions and ideas before I came up with this.
I really wanted to paint a fence for this one. I like how it’s receding when it reaches
the trees and I really wanted to create thay kind of look. I also like how drawing the
shadows makes it look so much more interesting, and yet it’s so easy to do, but it makes such
a great difference ! For the fence you need to use your darkest
wash of Payne’s gray or whichever color you are working with. The sticks should not look
all the same, same principle as the trees. And they should look smaller and closer together
as they recede towards the back. For the shadow, I used a lighter wash of Payne’s
gray and I was careful to think of where the sun is shining from, so if I’m correct, and
I hope I am, the shadows should be aiming this way and look long like this since the
sun is so low in the sky. I drew the shadows for the trees as well and
because I love them, I couldn’t help but add a few splatters on the snow to give it more
character and I really like the look. There was something missing on the top left
of the painting, so I added some branches there and to tell you the truth, I found they
ruined the whole thing as I was painting them, which really bugged me when I was filming
this because towards the end of a painting that has been going well, especially with
youtube videos, you’re just hoping the final touches make it more beautiful and not the
opposite. So I wasn’t too happy with them but when I added the white gouache on top,
it made these branches look a lot better. That’s one thing with white gouache and winter
paintings, I feel like it really helps make a painting and even helps fix mistakes, so
I love gouache ! Tell me in the comments of you feel the same way, but just know that
if you’re not using gouache, you’re really missing out because it’s a great, great medium
to use with watercolor. I added a few spots of it on the fence and
on the trees and voilà or in my own french accent, voilà !
I hope you enjoyed this new watercolor painting for beginners and that this beautiful snowy
scenery got you in the mood for some more winter paintings before spring kicks in !
Let me know what you thought about it in the comments below, and if you’re not subscribed
please do, turn on notifications, or like the video if you liked it, this always helps
my channel so I’m really grateful for you guys and for your contributions, and until
the next video, happy painting !