Water That Looks Right

This lesson shows how to create the look of calm water with easy techniques and easy methods.  

Easy Way To Water And Reflections

No matter the size or form of the body of water you are painting, there are basic techniques and principles that will work for all; from the smallest puddle to open ocean.

Once you have mastered the techniques along with where and how to use them, you’ll be able to represent any body of water effectively in your paintings.  This lesson shows how to use the simplest techniques to create calm water. 

Important Characteristics Of Water

Water has two important characteristics. Creating a believable sense of water in your paintings means creating the illusion of these two characteristics.  

Water is HORIZONTAL – The surface of water in most conditions is flat and horizontal. Rougher water and open ocean may have significant waves, but the surface is still fundamentally horizontal. It is important to create and reinforce the notion ‘horizontal-ness’ on the shapes that represent water in your paintings.

Water is REFLECTIVE – water itself is transparent and has no color. The color we see on the surface of water is due to several factors, the most important of which is reflectivity.  Reflections on the surface of water happen in particular ways that are easy to simulate in your paintings.

Water is also moving. The surface of even the stillest water is easily disturbed by wind and the action of creatures and objects. Movement on the surface interrupts the effects of reflection and, with enough action, the horizontal-ness. In a painting it is the intersection and interaction of ‘horizontal-ness’ and reflection that will create a sense of movement.

Important Techniques For Painting Water

Every wash and mark needed to create water in a watercolor painting is nothing more than an easy,  basic watercolor painting technique. 

Graded washes are simply wet-in-wet washes with changes to the amount of water and paint. Some deft work with a wet wash done with the side of the brush will result in rough texture that simulates sparkling highlights. Although the brush is not dry, this is essentially the drybrush technique.  

Reflections are best added as more-or-less horizontal strokes done dry-in-wet. Interruptions in the reflections can be accomplished easily with a small flat brush and the lift technique.  

These four watercolor painting techniques are essential for every watercolor painting including those that have water.

What you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper – approx 11″ x 7″
  • Colors: Cobalt Blue, Raw Sienna, Lemon Yellow, Cadmium Red
  • Brushes: Medium Round, Small Round, Rigger, Small 1/4″ Flat

    Download :  DRAWING LAYOUT

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    How To Water (and More)

    Two Easy Ways To Paint WaterThis a group of lessons includes a series on painting water as well as many other important elements of the landscape - trees, rocks, grasses and more. 

    They are basic, easy lessons that use basic techniques. They are accessible by anyone are really great for beginners. 

    Practicing a particular subject or skill in isolation makes it easy to concentrate on that one thing in order to master it before working on more complex scenes. 

    Basic Watercolor Painting Techniques

    Wet-Into-Wet Watercolor TechniqueEvery watercolor painter should know and master these four techniques – wer-in-wet, dry-in-wet, drybrush and lift. Lessons on all four are part of a series of fourteen lessons that are just for beginners. 

    Learn and practice these four techniques – they are fundamental to every watercolor painting, no matter how complex or accomplished. 

    These ideas and techniques are often overlooked in classes and workshops to the detriment of the student. Learn and practice them even if you are not a beginner. 

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