Easy Watercolour Sunrise - Step by Step | Emily Curtis | Skillshare

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Easy Watercolour Sunrise - Step by Step

teacher avatar Emily Curtis, Artist/Painter

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

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Art supplies

    • 3. Choosing the Colours

    • 4. Wet-on-wet Technique

    • 5. Practicing the Shapes

    • 6. Final Project - Background

    • 7. Final Project - Midground

    • 8. Final Project - Foreground

    • 9. Class Project

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About This Class

Have you ever watched wondered how to capture the beauty of a sunrise? This class is all about how to do just that.

In this class you’ll learn an easy process for painting a warm, pink sunrise using watercolours. I’ll guide you step-by-step from choosing the colours to producing the finished piece. By the end of this class you’ll have your very own Sunrise painting and all the techniques you’ll need to recreate the piece in any colours you like.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to select colours for a sunrise
  • How to use the wet-on-wet technique with watercolours
  • Step-by-step process of a watercolour sunrise

This class is suitable for all skill levels from beginner to professional as everything is laid out easily for you to follow along.

If you like this class, please leave a review to help me improve.

Happy Painting!

E xx

Meet Your Teacher

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Emily Curtis




Hi there! I'm Emily Curtis.

I'm a full-time artist who specialises in acrylic and watercolour painting. I produce work which portrays atmosphere and emotion, often inspired by moments in nature and urban life.

My love of painting began as a child when I was mesmerised by the colours in the fields surrounding my home. I spent hours watching sunsets and soon became obsessed with recreating the beauty of the world on paper. Now, I uses my art to prolong the moments that often feel too fleeting to be observed in everyday life.

I followed my passion into adulthood and gained a Fine Art Foundation Diploma from the University of Arts London. My art has also been seen in magazines such as 'World of In... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hello. My name's Emily Curtis. I'm a full time artist based in the UK, and I specialize in acrylic and watercolor painting. Today I'm going to show you how to paint this lovely watercolor sunrise. You don't need any prior knowledge of watercolors for this class as I'm going to walk you through all the techniques, step by step. First, I'll talk you through all the art supplies we're going to need on any replacements you can use. We'll have a practice session to go through the basic shapes you'll need to paint in this class, and I'll guide you through choosing the colors for the final piece. I'll also give a quick tutorial on using the wet on wet technique in the main section of this class. I'll take you through a step by step tutorial of how to paint this beautiful sunrise for your class project. All you have to do is follow along with this tutorial on post your results down below. Let's begin 2. Art supplies: Let's start the class with a quick run through of all the supplies you're going to need first up and most obviously, is water colors. You don't have to use this exact set, but these are the ones are used, and those are Windsor and Newton. You could also use a smaller set like these, which are see White of Brighton. Thes are the ones that come in most school packs. You'll definitely need to use watercolor paper for this class. I know that sometimes with water colors, you can get away with using normal paper. But if you do that for this one, you'll just end up with a sad puppy paper sunrise mush, and you'll want to secure that paper to the table. Using tape, I recommend using Scotch tape. You'll also need a water bowl and some tissue toe washing. Dry your brushes. You'll need three brushes for this class. Well, you actually only need the two smaller ones, but I like to use a big brush to wet my paper with, and that we brush is this one, and it's an inch wide. I'll also be using a small, pointed brush. This one's in size five and lastly, a small square brush like this. Unfortunately, the sizing has long since rubbed off on this one, but you get the picture. 3. Choosing the Colours: the first step in preparing for the painting is choosing the colors we're going to work with to make this easy. I've made a grid separating the colors into background, mid ground and foreground, starting with a nice light yellow for the sun's rays. I'm starting with the background because we will be working from back to front to make the final piece. Next color is orange. I don't want to make this to Brunt because we don't want the background to be overpowering . Lastly, putting in the pink, moving on to the mid ground, starting with the same orange as in the background, but a little bit more intense as we're getting closer to the foreground in the mid ground. My brightest color is orange under the darkest color is purple, so I want the two colors in the middle to help me transition between them. I'm going to use red and pink, finally probably using purple. Don't make it too dark because we'll be adding most of shading in the foreground. I've mixed quite a pinky purple because this is a very warm toned painting and moving on to the foreground again, starting with the orange, the same one from the mid ground. Or you could make it a little bit more intense if you want. Next, I'm adding red. It'll look best if he makes a sort of mid point between the red and the pink from the mid ground. The third color I'm going to use is that purple from the mid ground. The last color I'm adding, is a really dark, warm purple. This is what I'll be using for the most intense shadows. I want this to look almost black when it's really concentrated. Here's my chart when it's dry so you can see the final colors. You want to keep this coast to you so you can refer back to it during the class. 4. Wet-on-wet Technique: now we're going to have a quick practice off the wet on wet technique before we start the project. The wet on wet technique is super simple. It just means applying wet paint onto wet paper. All you have to do is saturate your paper with water like this. Give it a moment to let the water sink in, then apply your paint and watch as it spreads outwards. It also works if you just don't your brush onto the paper. Now let's start by trying out a few basic brushstrokes to get the feel of how it works. You can blur the edges of your color even more if you add water over the top. Try using this technique to blend two colors together. If you make any mistakes, you can just up the paint away with the tissue. Maybe try out a few quick strokes like thes so that you're used to the movement when we come to paint the wheat field. If you are unfamiliar with the wet on wet technique, then I recommend that you practice with this a bit before jumping into the main tutorial 5. Practicing the Shapes: Let's just have a quick practice off the main shape that appears in this class. This is the wheat crop in the field. My sun is shining on. There are two main ways to paint this. The first is to dot the brush like this to make a small line off over or tear shapes and then draw the stem off the plant down from there. The second way is to make several short, quick strokes with your brush. To make this kind of shape and then paint in the stem, I recommend using a mix of both of these shapes in your final piece. 6. Final Project - Background: Now we're ready to begin working on the final project, and we're going to start by painting the sunrise in the background of the peace. The first step is to saturate the paper with water, so it is prepared for us to use the wet on wet technique we've practiced. So we want to brush the water all over the paper, make sure it's all evenly covered and then leave it for a few seconds to sink in. As always, with water colors, you want to work from light to dark, so I'm starting with my yellow, and I'm going to use that outlined where the sun is. Then I'm going to drag that out slightly wider to give my next color something to blend into. Next, I'm mixing the orange, which I'm not going to use too much off because I'm just using it as a transition between the yellow and pink. Notice how I'm placing this slightly wide off the yellow and then dragging it in words. The wet on wet technique makes color spread out more than usual, so I'm placing my colors wider than where I want them to be, so they don't cover up the area of white. I've left for the sun when they spread out, then just make sure the outside edge is blended out as well, so we don't end up with any harsh lines on the painting. Now I'm changing to my square brush to apply the pink because I have a large area to cover , and using a bigger brush will ensure everything's days Looking nice and smooth. I'm applying the pink at the edges of the painting and working inwards to allow the wet on wet technique to do the work and blend everything together. Watercolor paint gets lighter as it dries, so I'm going to add another layer of pink to make sure it still looks vibrant once it's dry . In preparation for the next two lesson, you should let your work dry so that the background will look smooth. And then we went to the paper, as we will be using the wet on wet technique again in the next lesson, you can dab away some paint with a tissue if you make a mistake, or if anything starts to look a little dark 7. Final Project - Midground: Now we're going to start on the mid ground of the painting. For this, we are still using the wet on wet technique, so make sure your paper is wet. Before you start using my pointed brush again, I'm going to mix up my orange from the color chart we made most of the I'm applying this with quick upward strokes from the bottom of my paper to create the general shape of a blade of grass. I'm then going to Dr my brush around the tops of some of these to make the shape of a wheat crop. You don't need to be too precise at the moment because the wet on wet technique will blow everything out anyway. This is to make the mid ground look out to focus so that it appears further away. Full of this helps tap depth to the painted moving on to my second mid ground color, which is red, and I'm going to apply this in the same way. Make sure your pain isn't too saturated as you move on to the darker colors because we're trying to build up lighting shadow through layering so we don't want it to look too intense Early on, there are a few things you should notice about the placement of my colors. One. I'm keeping my brush strokes shorter when they're directly under the sun and they get longer on either side. This helps to frame the sun as my main focal point. Two. I'm keeping the red lower than the orange, and I'm going to keep doing this as my colors get darker. If you can imagine a week field, the top off the plant looks lighter because it gets hit by the sun and it gets darker the closer we get to the ground because of the shadows. Three. My brush drugs air never directly upwards. I always bend them slightly left or right, because plants don't grow in perfect verticals, I added pink and red to my piece, which you might think seems pointless on you would probably be right, but color theory wise, I did have a reason. You see, the lightest color in my mid ground is orange, and the darkest color is purple, and somehow I have to transition between the two. But it can be a little tricky to get from orange to purple. So I said to myself that orange transitions to red, which transitions to pink, which transition, Mr Pope. But looking back, it probably made no difference in the end results. So you can just use one of those if you want to finish off the mid ground, I'm applying the purple from my color chart in the same way I did with all the other colors . - That's all for the mid ground. Let the peace drive before starting the next lesson. 8. Final Project - Foreground: The last step of the painting is to complete the foreground. Make sure your painting is completely dry before you start this lesson because we want the details to look really crisp. This is the first time in this painting that I started by using one of my darkest colors. This is because now is when we want to start building up the shadows. I'm also starting with the top when painting the wheat plant this time so that I can position more accurately where I want the plant to be, and then just paint the stem down from there. Make sure you're touching the brush, really likely to the paper so that you're using just the tip of the brush. This will keep the details looking really fine. I also prefer the look when some of the stems of disjointed I think it makes the piece look a bit freer. But that's just personal taste. You could also add a bit of depth by watering the purple down so that some of the stems look further away. - Next , I'm going in with orange, which is my lightest color to balance things out of it. You want to make sure your oranges really bright because these are the plants that have the sun shining on them. I like to imagine that this is a summertime sunrise, so the sun is just coming up, but it's already warm, and it's going to be a really hot, clear day. That might seem a bit weird if you're not the kind of person who gives your art and origin story that I like to think that it adds character. I also put some orange down the bottom so we keep the idea that we've got the sun's warmth going right through the painting. Now I'm moving on to the red red stems. Don't sit as high off as the orange ones. It's a warm color, so we know they've still got son on them, but they're not in direct sunlight. I have so many photos of safe to my phone. Google probably thinks I'm going to throw in my art career and become a farmer at this point to finish off the piece, I'm going to paint in some stems using a really dark purple. Make sure you place thes below everything else we've painted because these are the plants that are completely in the shade. You could also add instant brasi pieces at the bottom to build up some dark areas. - Just continue with this until you're satisfied with the final piece. 9. Class Project: Here is the finished piece up-close for your class project. Try recreating your own by following my instructions. If you want to experiment a bit, you could remake the peace in different colors. Don't forget to post your results down below, as I'd love to see them. And if you post them on Instagram, do tag me so I can share. You're welcome. My stories. Do leave a review as it helps me out a lot. And if there's anything you want me to do a tutorial on, let me know. You can find more of my work on Instagram at IDO dot, dot Curtis, and on my website, www. Emily hyphen curtis.com. I hope you enjoyed this class and I'll see you in the next one.