Autumn Landscapes in Watercolor: Paint Expressive Autumn Trees and Sceneries | Bianca Rayala | Skillshare

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Autumn Landscapes in Watercolor: Paint Expressive Autumn Trees and Sceneries

teacher avatar Bianca Rayala, Watercolor Artist

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (1h 28m)
    • 1. About the Class

    • 2. Materials and color Mix

    • 3. Trees Practice Strokes

    • 4. Project 1 Pencil Sketch

    • 5. Project 1 Painting

    • 6. Project 2 Pencil Sketch

    • 7. Project 2 Painting

    • 8. Key Learnings and Class Project

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About This Class

Welcome to my Autumn Landscapes in Watercolor Class!


In this Skillshare course, you'll learn how to paint natural landscapes with watercolor. As a final project, you will create two sceneries highlighting the beautiful colors of autumn.

To start, I will show you in detail the materials and how they are used. Then we will study color intensity and understand how to avoid potential errors in color mixing and application. Ill demonstrate brush strokes to portray different autumn trees. I'll teach you how to compose a balance and attractive watercolor work. I will walk you through the first wash and giving life and shape to our landscape through expressive brush strokes.

By the end of the course, you will be able to explore painting both simple and complex subjects using limited color palette and key watercolor techniques.

Capture the beauty and warmth of autumn landscapes. I'll see you in class.

Meet Your Teacher

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Bianca Rayala

Watercolor Artist

Top Teacher

Hi friends! I'm Bianca and I'm a watercolor artist. My purpose is to inspire people to discover and pursue their creative passion. See full profile

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1. About the Class: Hi, everyone. I'm Bianca Rayala. I'm a watercolor artist and educator from the Philippines. I love watercolors, and I'm so passionate about sharing my love for painting. Painting from the heart is the secret to all my creations. I paint whatever that inspires me, whether it's a serene landscape, vintage scenery, or characters in action, I love using watercolors to bring things to life. Through expressive strokes and splash of colors, I tell stories through my paintings. In this course, you will learn how to paint natural landscapes with watercolor. As a final project, you will create two sceneries highlighting the beautiful colors of autumn. To achieve that, I will show you in detail the materials and how they are properly used. We will study color intensity and understand how to avoid potential errors in color mixing and application. I will demonstrate brushstrokes to portray different autumn trees. I will teach you to compose a balance and attractive watercolor work, and I will guide you from sketching to painting the first wash and giving life and shape to a landscape through loose and expressive brush strokes. By the end of the course, you will be able to explore painting both simple and complex subjects using limited color palette and key watercolor techniques that's captured the beauty and warmth of autumn landscapes. I'll see you in class. 2. Materials and color Mix: Let's talk about the materials and color mixtures in this lesson. Here are the supplies that I use to paint this autumn landscapes. For instance, water color paper. The one I'm using is Baohong artist grade watercolor paper. It is cold press, 300 GSM, and 100 percent cotton. It is a good quality paper because it holds good amount of washes and the paints remain vibrant even after drying. For the watercolor paints, the one that I will be using is White Nights watercolor set from Nevskaya Palitra. These are artist grade watercolors and I find the colors perfect for painting autumn landscapes. The colors I'll be using from this set, are yellow ocher, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red light, carmine, ultramarine blue, green, umber, burnt umber, and neutral black. I will also use caput mortuum and Naples yellow light. You can also prepare opaque white paint to paint some highlights in your painting. For the brushes, all the brushes that I use are from Silver Brush Limited. This flat brush is made of mixed squirrel and synthetic hair. I will use it for wetting the paper and for painting the sky. Next is this red sable brush to paint the entire landscape. Then I will also use a synthetic brush for fine details. Lastly, these two script liner brushes in size 1 and 6 for painting twigs and impression of trees. You will also need a pencil, eraser, two cups of water, tissue paper, and a scratch paper for our practice exercises. Let me show you the color mixes that we will be using for the two class projects. Let's do first a swatch of colors, then I'll proceed with a color mix afterwards. You don't need to use the exact same color or brand that I'm using right now, feel free to use the colors that you have at home and mix the colors that you are comfortable using. This is yellow ocher. Next is ultramarine blue. Here is carmine. This three colors will be used mainly for the sky fragment. Next, colors are the ones that I'll be using for the landscape. First is cadmium yellow medium. Next is cadmium red light. You can notice that it is leaning towards the orange hue. Here is green. It looks too bright, but I'll show you how to desaturate this color later on. Then we'll also use burnt umber. This one is umber we can use it the wooden fence. Also neutral black, which is very similar to a neutral tint for creating grading very dark tones. I will use caput mortuum for painting the barn. An alternative color, could be any maroon color. Lastly, this Naples yellow light. This one is optional, I will use it for highlights and finishing touches in the painting. To recap the first three are for the sky, the second group is for the landscape itself, and then lastly, these two colors are for the barn and highlights. Now the exciting part, let's mix colors. I don't normally use the pure pigment in painting since they look so bright, what I do is I usually mix them with other colors to create a new hue. For example, to create the orange hues I mix cadmium yellow, this one is cadmium yellow medium and cadmium red light. As I paint the landscape I will vary the ratio and proportion of this two colors to create differentiate shades. The same with the green. Instead of using pure green pigment, I will diffuse it with a bit of cadmium red light to get them earthy green tone like this one. Now, I will show you how to create a darker shade of orange to paint the shadowed part of the orange trees. I still mix cadmium red light, cadmium yellow medium, and a bit of ultramarine blue. Here you can see a darker tone of orange. For the browns, we can create a darker and more intense brown using burnt umber and ultramarine blue. If you want a much deeper shade of brown, just add a bit of neutral black to this mix. Then lastly, for the sky, we normally use yellow ocher to paint the sunlight and then ultramarine blue to paint the sky itself. But since blue when mixed with yellow might create an unwanted green color, we must add something to avoid creating an unwanted green color in the sky. What we can do to prevent having a green color is still mix a bit of carmine to ultramarine blue. Now if this blue color with a little carmine in it got mixed with yellow ocher, you can be sure that these colors won't be creating any green color. These are the basic mixtures that we need to have for our projects. Let's practice painting trees on the next video. 3. Trees Practice Strokes: In this lesson, I'm going to teach you how to paint autumn trees using different brush strokes. Trees are an essential part in all landscape paintings, so I encourage you to practice this exercises to get better results. I start painting the trunk using a synthetic brush. The mixture I'll be doing should have less amount of water, so we can create an almost dry and thick stroke for the trunk. I mixed burnt umber and a bit of ultramarine blue to get a dark brown color. Notice how I do the stroke. I lay the tape and mid-part of the brush to the paper. The stroke is dry and jugged as well. Next, I get my size 6 script liner brush and create a creamy mix of orange. Here, I'm using cadmium yellow medium and cadmium red light. Now, after loading the entire brush with pigment, I flatten the bristles and remove the excess water from the brush, and wiggle my brush flat on the paper. I hold the brush at the end of the handle, so I don't have too much control and the strokes would look natural and not stiff. I just repeat the strokes in circular motion. I create dimension by adding a darker orange tone. Using the same mix, but this time, I will add ultramarine blue. I do the same strokes with the bristles of my brush flattened on the paper. Once you're done, use the tip of the brush to paint fine twigs and branches with brown color. Now, we don't want the tree to look like a cutout, so we need to connect it with the ground. I paint the ground with a green color, then soften the base of the trunk so it would blend nicely and softly with the ground. You can use the tip of the brush to create strokes of small grasses from the ground too. Next, let's paint a dried and leafless tree. Again, I start with a synthetic brush to paint the trunk. The strokes are still dry and jugged. Then using a small script liner brush, I hold it at the end and create fine shaky strokes. The branches should appear to be thinner and finer as they reach the end. Do the same step of connecting the trunk to the ground. For the third tree, I will share how to paint a branch of maple leaves in wet on wet technique. You may apply this when painting a landscape filled with trees at the background. First is to pre-wet the surface lightly with clean water. Using a round brush loaded with a watery pigment, I do some strokes using the belly of my brush lightly touching the paper. I leave some white gaps in between to avoid making the tree look like a blob. Then dub the tip of my brush on the edges of the wash to create an impression of leaves and the crown of the tree. While this wash is still moist or wet, you can dub a different color but with a darker tone of the same pigment to show volume on some areas. Since we painted on a wet surface, we can see some soft edges on the random areas. I will add another layer of an even darker tone to show shade on this tree. The last step is to paint the branch with broken strokes using a script liner brush. I encourage you to practice these exercises, then let's start our first class project on the next video. 4. Project 1 Pencil Sketch: Let's start with our first-class project. We will be painting a picture of an orange maple tree by the river surrounded by a scenic autumn landscape. I start by positioning the horizon line, I place it on the lower third part of the paper. So I have two-thirds of the paper for the focal point, which is the tree. I make a slope from the left side to the right for the river bank where our main tree is planted. Then next, I will draw another river bank on the right side. I'm just drawing some light strokes of grass as my bare guide for painting. I will position the main tree here in the first third portion of the paper since it is our focal point. Light shaker strokes to portray the tree outline is enough to serve as our guide. I keep my strokes light so it won't be too visible after laying the colors. Then lastly, I'll add a mountain at the background. This is our pencil sketch. I provided the copy of the pencil sketch and final painting in the reference section in the Project and Resources tab below this video. You may download them to serve as your guide when drawing or painting. 5. Project 1 Painting: I will paint this landscape from light to dark. I start by pre-wetting the paper with clean water using my flat brush. I tilted my paper a little bit so that the water and pigment would flow down. In that way, we avoid back flows when painting. Now I get a watery mix of yellow ocher and paint with gentle strokes some portions of the sky. Next, I get ultramarine mixed with a little bit of carmine to paint the blue portions of the sky. Again, I mix a bit of carmine to blue so I won't create a green mix in the sky when the blue color meets the yellow color. Following the rule of perspective, the portion of the sky closer to us should be darker in tone then gradually lightens as it goes far from us. Using my flat brush, I create gentle strokes and avoid overdoing them to keep the sky look neat and fresh. Next, I'm mixing the cool bluish-green color of the mountain at the background. I mix ultramarine blue, green, and Cadmium Red Light. My mixture is a bit thicker and creamier in consistency as compared to the tonal value of the sky. It's important to vary the tonal value so we create a distinction between the sky and the mountains. I remove the excess water from my brush before I create the stroke. I also avoided painting the fragment for the tree. Notice how soft the colors are on the paper because the paper is still wet on this stage of painting. As I approach the riverbank fragment, I just fade out the green color of the mountain with more water. Now, I mixed the colors for the trees on the riverbank on the right. I start with green mixed with yellow ocher, and Cadmium Yellow Medium. I dab my brush to create impression of large group of trees at the background. Next, I add some spots of orange mix of color using Cadmium Red Light and Cadmium Yellow Medium. It is important not to overdab the brush to avoid muddy colors. Just let the colors to naturally blend since we are painting wet on wet. I vary the colors of the riverbank and transitions to yellow ocher and green, just to define the shape and dimension. I will also paint a brown stroke on the edge to show an impression of the edge of the bank, and then I will transition to painting the waters and reflection. I paint the water with ultramarine blue and let the colors from the riverbank to flow freely downwards to the water fragment as my base layer for the reflection. I add a bit of orange color on the reflection and water with some downward brushstrokes. I intensify a bit the brown fragment on the bank with burnt umber. Next, I mix my colors for the riverbank on the left. I mix yellow ocher, Cadmium Yellow Medium, and Cadmium Red Light for this fragment. I start with some dabbing strokes as I want to show an impression of grasses. Then using another dry brush, I drag the paint upwards to create this random rough strokes for the grass. Next, I continue painting this fragment with a darker orange tone. I do the same downward dabbing strokes. As we approach the edge of the paper, the tonal value should get darker as a rule in perspective. Even when I apply a different color like this green color, the tonal value should be darker than the previous orange fragment. Doing this gradual increase in tonal value gives a sense of depth to the painting. Now I create some texture by splattering some orange paint and also clean water on the foreground. I advise that you should be careful not to stain the sky fragment when doing this plattering technique. Using a clean dry brush, I drag the moist paint going up to show grass blades. This brush doesn't have any paint on it. I just move the paints on my paper using this clean dry brush. The same thing I do with the reflection. I carefully drag the orange color of the reflection so it will have a fading effect on water. Now that the fragment for the maple tree is dry, we can start mixing colors for it. I use a fresh mix of cadmium yellow medium and cadmium red light to paint the base wash of the tree. Since light is coming from the right, the leaves facing the right side should have a light and clean color. Now, I will layer a creamier and a little bit more saturated orange color using the same mix to show volume on the tree. I wiggle my brush, letting the entire belly touch the paper. I also hold it at the end of the handle for minimal control. It is very crucial to give the tree volumes since this is our focal point. We want our tree to stand out from the colorful background. That's why the consistency of paint that we must use is really saturated. Now, I will add a darker layer using burnt umber, cadmium red light, and my leftover orange pigment. I paint this dark orange tone mostly on the left side of the tree which is in shadow. Be careful not to cover the entire part of the tree with dark brown so you won't lose the light that we initially set up. I add some tiny strokes on the crowns of the tree using the tip of my brush. Next, I scratch the paper to create the branch and twigs. Notice that the paints was lifted off because of scratching. I scratch some more areas and also the impression of the tree trunk. Now I mix a dark brown color using burnt umber and neutral black to paint the left side of the trunk and branches to give dimension. Notice that there are still spots of white from the scratching, which serve as a highlight of the trunk and branches. I add some more fine strokes to create very thin twigs. To do this, hold your brush lightly and use the tip of the script brush to create fine strokes. Now, when the grass fragment is still moist, I scratch some areas to show grass blades. I do random scratching, but they still mind the direction of the scratches. It's just support the natural look and direction of the grass. Scratching should also be done while the paint is still moist. Once the paint has totally dried in the paper, it is impossible to create that lifting of color through scratching. Don't forget also to connect the tree trunk to the ground by painting some spots of color and some grass beside it. We're almost done with the painting. I would just like to add some thorns here on the right side to make it more alive. I basically use the same colors that I previously used earlier. I also darken the edges with a dark brown color so we can clearly separate the bank from the river. As you do this step, always remember that this is only the middle ground. Be careful not to overdo the thorns or put a lot of details, so it will not overpower the foreground which is the maple tree. I'll add some more orange strokes on the tree to cover some unpainted spots. As a final step, let's add some more dark greens in the foreground and a bit of highlights using Naples yellow, that is straight from the tube. Add some strokes using this opaque paint to add accent on the painting and we are done with our first landscape. Make sure that the painting is completely dry before peeling off the tape around it. This is our final painting. I'll see you in the next video and let's do our second class project. 6. Project 2 Pencil Sketch: Welcome to our second class project. In this lesson, we will be painting a picture of an old red barn in a perfect fall landscape. We start again by identifying the ground level. Somewhere below the middle part of the paper, I draw a downward slope from right to left. I place the barn here on the rightmost part of the paper so it serves as a focal point in our painting. I just sketch the front of the barn, then some bare strokes to show the side. Don't worry too much of the details and the entire form of the barn as we'll be surrounding it with different autumn trees. I sketch some trunks and the outline of the tree to serve as my guide later when painting. Next, let's draw the wooden fence in the foreground. Notice that the distance of one wooden post to another gets longer as it gets closer to us. It is important to take note of this principle so we follow the rule of perspective in our sketch. I add some grass leads on the ground and a simple slope to show a mountain at the background. I provided the copy of the pencil sketch in the resource section for your guide. You may download it to serve as your template when preparing your own sketch. Let's begin painting on the next video. 7. Project 2 Painting: Let's begin painting starting from the background, then middle ground, and lastly the foreground. I brew wet the sky fragment including the mountain with clean water. Next, I get a water mix of yellow ocher to paint the light in the sky. I don't paint the entire sky with yellow. I just set up a warm color in the sky fragment with some strokes. Next, I get a mix of ultramarine blue and a little bit of carmine to paint the blue sky. I start from the top. My paper is still tilted, so the paints will naturally flow down. Unlike the strokes that I did on our first landscape, in this painting, we want to paint some impression of clouds in the sky. I mix ultramarine blue, cadmium light, and green to paint the mountain at the background. The tonal value is a little darker than the sky. Notice that I don't have hard edge between the mountain and the sky since mountains at a distance should have a soft transition with the sky. I will add some orange colors in the mountain since we want to highlight the full atmosphere. I mix cadmium red light and yellow ocher, to create a muted orange, then blended with a cool green mix we have on the mountain. I made a darker tone of orange to show some shadowed part in the mountain. Notice that I faded out the color near the barn since we want to reserve it for the trees in the middle ground. Next, I add a creamy mix of orange and green in the middle ground to show an impression of trees on the foot of the mountain. Avoid rubbing the green and orange colors too much to prevent creating muddy colors. Just let the colors blend naturally. Now we will be working wet and dry as we transition to paint the ground. I create my yellow, orange mix using wide strokes. I add a bit of green on my mix so I can get varying use for the ground. I also avoid painting the wooden fence with orange color. I splatter some green on the orange fragment to add interest and texture on our landscape. Again, avoid painting over the fence. It is okay if the edges were rough like this one. It doesn't have to be so neat since we also want to achieve like a raw woodblock on the fence. As you paint the foreground, the pigment should get creamier and more saturated. Increase the tonal value as you reach closer to the edge of the paper. This will create such a huge impact in depth on your painting. I paint the foreground with dark orange color. I will add some details like grass blades using my script liner brush, and the foreground is still moist as I do this step, so that there won't be hard edges on the ground. I also splatter some water to create extra texture. I noticed that I left the right side part of the barn unpainted. With a light mix of orange, I paint this portion as the base wash of my trees. I didn't cover the side of the barn. While it is still moist, I add a slightly darker tone to give volume. This step is similar to the third tree exercise that we did in the previous lesson. With the tip of my round brush, I paint the general shape of the tree. I also transition to my big script liner brush to create more texture on the tree. I leave it this way for a while and proceed to painting the barn. I get my caput mortuum pigment and paint the barn. My paint is creamy and almost dry. This way I can make the barn to really stand out from the colorful landscape. I don't fill in the barn with a solid color and a single tone. Notice that I vary the tone on this side of the barn facing us. I will also leave some white gaps for the window and door. Next I paint the other side of the barn using a darker shade of caput mortuum. I simply add neutral black to my pain to get a darker shade. The tonal value should be different on both sides so we can show dimension. Notice that I did negative painting around the orange tree to define its shape and form. As long as the tonal value of the sides of the barn are different, we don't need to draw an outline to define the shape of the barn. The changing tonal value itself, a great dimension for us. Let's add some shadow here on the roof area. Add some rough texture using dry brush strokes. As I check the left side of the paper, it is dry and we can paint the dry trees on the left side of the barn. Using my small script liner brush, I paint thin stroke for the tree trunk, and then proceed on painting the branches. When doing this, the mixture should be really creamy so you could create defined strokes. If your brush has a lot of water in it, the tendency is you will just create thick and watery lines. My stroke gets thinner and finer as I reach the end of the branches. Make the strokes look natural by drawing shaky lines rather than stiff lines. Notice also that the tonal value of the tree is darker than the green and orange background. Having this makes the tree stand out. I paint some small strokes of grass on the ground to connect the tree on the ground. I add some more strokes of branches to make the tree fuller. Let's paint the other tree on the right. I paint the trunk with a dark brown color as well and paint the branches of it. The strokes are basically the same with the one we did on the other tree. The only difference is that here the strokes of the branches are mostly broken. Let's add some darker orange tones on the tree to make it fuller. I do the same circular strokes using my big script liner brush. If you don't have a brush like this one, you can do this step even with a regular round brush. I paint a bit of green spots below just to give contrast between the ground and the orange maple tree. I also do some dry brush strokes here on the foot of the mountain to separate it from the ground. I'm just adding some more strokes on the trees before moving on to the wooden fence. As I paint the fence, I start with a yellow ocher and then paint the upper part of the fence lighted by the sun. We are creating dimension to the wood, that's why we start with a light color. After this, I get my mid-tone brown color to paint the other side of the fence. Notice the rough edges that I intentionally leave, to make it more textured. I add an even darker brown color on top on some areas as a final layer. I do the same process on the second group of wooden fence. But this time the first layer isn't as light as the yellow ocher color that we did on the first group. I still paint the two tones of brown to show the two sides. I will paint the wooden post doing the same principle. Don't worry about the white gaps that you see. I will blend in the colors later on to remove those white unpainted gaps. I connect the base of the post to the ground by painting some grasses. The same principle of connecting the tree trunks on the ground so they will not look like a cut-out. Now, using a clean damp brush, I soften the edges on the areas with white unpainted spots to blend the colors. We can leave the painting like this or you can also add some highlights using an opaque white paint on some parts of the barn and the wooden fence for accent. This is our final painting. 8. Key Learnings and Class Project: Thank you so much for joining me in this course. It has always been a great joy to share my passion for painting through teaching. I want to see your final painting in the project section so I can share my feedback and thoughts about your work. I encourage you to practice color mixing, do the brushstroke exercises to prepare you well before painting the class projects. If you follow the lessons and trust yourself, I'm sure you can easily create your landscape paintings. If you find this class helpful, your review would be a great encouragement for me too. Thank you so much again for being with me, and I hope to see you in my other classes.