Learn To Paint Water Reflections in A Watercolor Landscape | Eva Nichols | Skillshare

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Learn To Paint Water Reflections in A Watercolor Landscape

teacher avatar Eva Nichols, Watercolor Artist

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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

7 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. Introduction to Painting Water Reflections in WC

    • 2. Materials Reflections in Water

    • 3. Painting The Background

    • 4. Painting Reflections In The Water

    • 5. Painting The Foreground

    • 6. Project description

    • 7. Wrap Up Water Reflections

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About This Class

In this class I will show you how to paint reflections in water on a calm body of water such as a lake.

In the process you will learn some basic watercolor techniques as well as some fun and easy ways to create rocks and vegetation both in the background and in the foreground, to create a complete painting of a Spring Landscape with water reflections.

Whether you are a beginner, or a more experienced watercolorist this class is sure to teach you new and exciting watercolor techniques to enhance and bring new excitement to your watercolors!

  1. Introduction and samples of finished paintings created with the watercolor techniques we will use for this project.
  2. Painting the background using wet-into wet technique, as well as creating some distant rocks using a credit card or palette knife to create rocks.
  3. Painting the water and reflections using wet-into-wet technique, as well as a “thirsty brush” to lift out reflections.
  4. Painting the foreground to complete the painting using the same techniques we used in the background, but scaled up, to create depth.
  5. For your class project you will paint along using the watercolor techniques demonstrated to create your own landscape with water reflections.

Please make sure to post your painting to the project gallery!


This class is great for both beginners as well as more experienced watercolor enthusiasts.No previous painting or drawing skills necessary – just an open mind and a playful spirit!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Eva Nichols

Watercolor Artist


Hi, I am Eva Nichols, a Danish born watercolorist residing in Truckee, California where I love being part of the creative community. I show my work at various galleries in California and Nevada, and teach watercolor classes both locally as well as nationally and internationally. 

I love watercolors because the are such a lively, interactive medium. My painting inspiration comes from nature and traveling. Sharing what I have learned about watercolor over the years is my passion.

I like to keep my classes fun and inspiring, letting the watercolors flow and make them paint for me taking advantage of "happy accidents"!

You can watch some of my demos on my YouTube Channel: Eva Nichols Art

For tracings & handouts or to sign up for my Newsletter please go t... See full profile

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1. Introduction to Painting Water Reflections in WC: Hi, I am even Nikos and I'm a full time watercolor artist. I live up in Truckee, California That's up in the high sheriffs on, and I have bean teaching and painting full time for the past 56 years now. And I love to travel, and I teach watercolor classes and workshops both nationally and internationally, as well as classes here in my local area. You can probably hear that I have an accent. That's because I'm originally from Denmark. And but as I said, I've been in California for the last 30 years and, um, I view myself when I think of myself as a painter, I view myself. It's an interpreter, not a recorder. What I mean that is that I'm not really that interested in depicting exactly what I see. But I want to interpret what I see and paint the feeling and the emotion that a place or thing gives me a smart ass inspiration. I would say my inspiration is meaning nature. Um, and my passion is color. I love color, and I used color to expressing mood and a feeling in this class. Today I am going to share with you how I paint Reflections in water. I got a request for showing some techniques for painting water and watercolor. And so that's gonna be my first, uh, class showing you how to paint the reflections. And I'll have some subsequent classes showing you other ways of painting water. Because water is many things. Are we painting an ocean? Are we painting a lake? Are we painting waterfall? And even with those different types off bodies of water? And is it a still day? It's that, you know, a calm day. Is it a windy day? Other current and things like that. So I'm really excited to a share different ways off painting water. And today we're concentrating on painting reflections in water in like a lake, or could be the ocean to on a still day and even on a completely still day, very often you'll still see ripples on the water. And even if you don't, sometimes you know what the lake would be like. A mirror. It's not good for painting. You do need to put a few little ripples in. Just tell the viewer that it's water, but enough about that. Let's stop talking about it. Let's skip painting 2. Materials Reflections in Water: So first, let's go over the materials were going to be using today I'm gonna do my demo on an eight by 10 piece off ashes, cold pressed watercolor paper, 100% cotton rack and I paint on £300. But you can certainly paint on £140 paper. That is no problem, what so ever? And, um, of course, water. It's water call, right, And I would like to have two container so I can use one for reaching out my brush and want to keep clean. You know, I have a board that I paid on. And then, of course, my palette. I'm going to use my palette that I normally use mostly Winter Newton colors in here. And in today's project, we are going to use capital red, fresh, ultra marine, blue, cobalt blue and Antwerp through and transparent yellow and burnt sienna. So basically, the primary colors close the burnt sienna and I happened tohave three Blues three blues in . But you don't have to do that. You can use whatever cause you like, but that's what I'm gonna be using. And so I have them in my palette here and then I need a spray bottle because, you know, I like to display my colors before I get started so that they're ready to roll and then brushes. I am going to use my one inch flat water watch brush to apply water. I'm gonna use my half inch dagger brush, and then I am probably going to use my number eight and number four round brush and then a rigger brush. This one happens to be. I think it's a number four. I don't have the number. It's a little bit fatter, but whatever you have used to process your half and my credit card to scrape with, you can also use a pat knife if you don't have quite a cot. Fandy. Finally, a pencil and I needed to raise a just to put in just very, very few lines, as few as you can get away with just to kind of help yourself. Where's, you know, landing? Where's the water and course tissue? I like to use some Kleenex to lift out and then some paper towel on top of a terry cloth where I can take out the water off my brush, and that should pretty much to us 3. Painting The Background: and I got my colors out. We're going to use Cho Polu Got to partidos I got a friend sheltering do and I got an and blue or you can use project was the same pigment number. Um, I have to puddles off, but Sheena have to publish a yellow and I have a puddle off connected on red So basically have three blues a yellow red and then the earth tone burnt Sienna And I think that will show me well for this particular painting. So we'll just to give it context you put in a little bit of a sky So I'm using my one inch flat wash brush And I'm just putting some water down and I'm gonna put it down all the way to the horizon line or, you know, where the water meets the other side of the lake. They can see that she's a shine. And I am just gonna go in with that same brush and put a little sky Caglayan and I put it in from the top. Of course, that's gonna be the darkest part off my sky. And I'm just using cobalt blue and many, many, many more. Maybe I'll check just a little bit off the and whipped and run in a swell. And you can see I often running my sky Don't bet on a diagonal. I think that gives a little nice movement through the sky. And I was just gonna let it run into the clean water there, and we're going to leave it for just a little bit. And then before it's completely dry, we're going to paint in our vegetation here in the background. That's what's gonna be reflecting into the water, which is down here. And then we're gonna put in a little quick for one. But my main goal today is to show you how to paint reflections on water. Okay, so I've given the sky just a little bit of time, and you can see I like that. And now the shine has left the paper almost. And I think it's time to stop thinking about putting in our bad ground vegetation. That's gonna be reflected reflecting into the water. So I just wanna make sure I have the edges off my watercolor paper dried off on the back. You sometimes work unhappiness. The water creeps in and creates run backs right there, the edges, And that's really annoying. So I'm probably going to start out with my dad a brush, and this is this gonna be loose and interpretive and let's see here, let's start with a little bit off my and what blue. And again, if you don't have an put blue use whatever you have Prussian blue shame a color And I'm just doing some strokes have, in fact, the bottom. Then I'm just kind of running up the brush like that and, you know, he sells my test to see how how quickly it moves. So it's a pretty good stage here. The more water you have on your brush and a more diluted your pigments are, the more they flow out, and the more loaded they are with pigment, the more they kind of stay contained. So what, this is this is pretty OK, and I'm not even gonna bother ranging out my brush. I'm just gonna dip my tip into a little bit off the yellow, and I'm gonna run some yellow up here and there. And that is of course, going to turn my and we're into green. And I'm just doing strokes up because it's bushes and trees and stuff like that. That's the idea. So now I think I went my brush out and then take most of the water up course you don't want too much more in my brush. Get a little bit of the French Children Marine blue wanted in the dark tap tap. And then I'm gonna go into a couple of the areas here, some overlapping and some in the white areas. I had left 10 minutes to one up here and make sure that nothing is too regular Deaths could be difficult. Sometimes Let's take a little tiny bit off the red dep dep and put that in here so serious . And here and, you know, if all three now I have all three primary college on my paper where they meet, they're gonna neutralize each other so it might look way too bright for you right now. But as we keep adding on colors, it's gonna go more and more neutral. She'll want to get a little bit more off that French ultra Marine blue. The French Ultra Marine blue was going to give and more shoddy yellow and compared to the end web because and put blue is a cool blue has little bit of your lips leaning towards the yellow side. And the French ultra Marine blue is actually a warm blue which leaning towards the red side Now put a little bit off the cobalt on. Okay, cool in there, too. And, uh, let's see, let's get some speaker and what do and so this be brave. And I'm using my dad brush like this because I want to see if I can get some nice dark evergreens in here. So first, I'm just doing with end quip and he will confess out down there, That's perfect. And that helped. Really? Well, of course, my color is, um, dry enough and the paper has drive, you know, within every minute the paper's gonna try more, more. And so I just do like, you can see it do like a line down. And then from there with a tip off my data brush here I put the branches on, and then I can always go in and fine tune it and want to make sure that they're not exactly the same size because that doesn't look good. And then it could be a little. And then let's just put a little bit of the darker down here a few places just being that in like that. So true trees is like that. Trees like that. That's not very good. So let's put some more. And now I'm gonna put a little bit off the French auto Marine blue in my and we're also so it's gonna be a mixture of those two and, uh, put some trees here background here, another little one. So these a pale as you can see Not quite. So I want to say that they're further away than these Doc wants and before drives on me. I think I'm going to take my little line of brush here, and I'm gonna David in a little bit of the transplant yellow. And, uh, I'm gonna dab in a little bit of that on top off the and with blue to wear make it more green, and I like to do it this way. Of course, I could have mixed myself agreeing with these cool two cars, but I think it becomes more interesting. That's my experience when I do it this way. According to get more color variations in that way. I don't have to work so hard on making it look like something. So here adapt a little bit into these couple of trees I did in the French Ultra Marine blue and you can see I'm just kind of making the sewage look like evergreens, and the rest is up to the viewer's imagination. I would like to let make my us working. You know, when I'm looking at my paintings, Don't know. I don't think I enjoy paintings. What I can kind of explore and find out what's there instead of having everything spelled out. So a bit more there. And let's see, I think I want to do another big one here and I need to dip into a movie and with and maybe this one put it with the yellow one, right from the get go there. And cause now I can feel you gotta be a little faster here. Well, this yakking because you know the papers trying And can you see how these shapes are holding much more than the 1st 1 to put on. And I actually personally like it better when I get more of that variety going and I think another little one out here would be good. Get this corner filled up there and some little dude. Dad, please. I like to do that and see, this is a good color like it. So that can also be something every quench a little bit further away and and just kind of. But this and then maybe one on the other side of that. So then it's like it's continuing on back side off. Mystery. Yeah, and as it's drying, I might want it just with the damp brush. Just kind of using some of these edges. And what I can do is I can also take a spray bottle and just there's no good, So let's try. Well, not yet. This one. I could give it just a little bit of water here so you can actually wit the paper a little bit again, just with a little bit of switching on just so we can retain some of those those wet edges . And here I'm gonna put something more green. I think I'm painting springtime. It's that time of year here when I'm doing what I'm doing this time also, and then get spritz in a little bit more with that one. That's a whole another saying with that the bottles and you know, good spirits. One of these days, we're gonna do a class on that, cause that's a very important tool for me. All right, so I think that was pretty good. It's not all the same I got. I think I got a good balance and maybe put a little bit like going back here, too. So again, this is kind of intrusive painting. I'm just reacting to what's happening on the paper and before tries on me. I'm gonna go in with that bird Tiana, and I'm gonna give the bottom here in some places, a little bit of both China, and then we're gonna scrape up some rocks. Wouldn't be one of my paintings if we didn't do it in rock scraping. So that's as far as I'm gonna do that back one. I really like it. I love it the way that you know the skies going down, and we have a little bit lighter behind those trees and vegetation, and then we can take either a palette knife or an old credit card or membership card or whatever, and then we are going to find just the right time to lift outs or scrape out rather some rocks. Just got some extra trips that I want to check care so that they don't make a had it in the sky. But you can see we have lots of soft edges. We have some hard edges, We have some billions in color, and that is really going to be wonderful because we're gonna reflect that down in the water . So I've been keeping a close eye on my painting and I can see it's time for me to scrape out some little rock formations and I'm gonna turn it on the side because that makes it easy. I'm left handed, and so this is easier. So in here in the middle is already kind of dried out a little bit, but that's OK. I don't have to rocks everywhere, So I'm just using the side and a little bit of the corner around the corner on my little credit card here. And I'm just with a squeegee motion kind of scraping some of the pigment away and then lifting up. And I would like to say to my students, but you have to have rock thoughts to get this to work. So have some rock thoughts, just, you know, think about what wraps looked like. Show here and it. Sure, we have some nice block shapes here, and it's actually good that, you know, not all the way across. I like that. That's good enough for, you know, a distant shore. And we might just scrape out a few little with the corner. A few little, um, vertical lines, Just, you know, tree trucks catching light or whatever there, that's all. And then we have our background. 4. Painting Reflections In The Water: Okay, My painting is dry enough that I can start painting in the water and the first thing So that's where we have to have all our paddles ready because, you know, once we get started, we kind of have to keep going s so we could take advantage off the moisture on our paper. So first things first, I'm gonna turn my painting on the side and I have my flat wash brush out with clean water and I am going to lay down water. Clean water. Careful. He around where water and land reach on the other side of the lake. And I today down my water when I'm paying painting water scenes later on my my clean water and in data my pigment Hoy Santilli because water is flat. And so if any of my brush troops end up showing up later, they will be showing up for Chantilly and they're gonna be a benefit. If they were any other direction, it would be a problem I would have to fix. There's always gonna be problems, so I try not to wear, create them on purpose. They pop up all in their own, so make it easy on ourselves. So now I have it nice and wet. See how shiny it ISS and I want to double check that I don't have any Were dry spots anywhere. And if you're painting on £300 Parcher school press, watercolor paper. But if you're painting month £140 it might buckle on your even mind bubbling a little tiny bit. You see, I just lifted up, spray the back, and it'll lie flat for you and the benefit ISS. It's going to keep moist longer. So it's a doctor whammy. The first thing we're gonna do is we're gonna paint in blue sky color. Um and I'm just going to stop down here because that's where the sky would be reflecting and then going gently up into towards the land. And I'm gonna take a little bit off that and flip. Remember, I put that in the sky, and I'm gonna put a little bit of that in now. You don't want the sky and and the water to be exactly the same color. So basically, darks show up light on water and lighter colors show up a little bit darker. Acosta, the, uh, water is denser than the air, and it absorbs you'd absorbs the light and then I want just a soft And she of course, I've got a painting, a little bit of land, so don't we don't want a hostage, and I don't want to be committed, So I think I could go in and do a bit more, maybe like that. Okay, so there's my water Step one painting in the sky in a voice automatic manner with horizontal strokes went into wets. Now comes the fun. So now we're going to pick up those colors that are in our foreground. No background story, and we're gonna pull them straight down. So he I see a little bit of the burnt Sienna. So I'm gonna put that in there, see that she'll be there. So that's that a little bit more there. And then we have some French ultra Marine blue with a little bit of red in it. Like here we have some purple Karsh, and you don't have to match it. Exactly. Don't you know, obsess about that, but just approximate So there some of those That's good. Um, and then we have some French automobile blue with a little bit off the and in. So we have some of that going on here, Mr Docker. So the docks need to be lighter than what they are. Yes, some more. There's more than end up in this one here and here. So really, I got one. And in here we can put it over the yellow man green. That's way too green. But don't worry about it. It's still wet, so we can, you know. And then here is actually also a little bit of purple at the bottom here, and we can put a little bit of that in there, and so it helps if you talk to yourself. She couldn't hear. Okay, so a little bit more of that here and there is a greenish going on. And now we want to put in some of those greens so and a little bit that yellow here should be there. And there's a dark queen there here, that dark queen. And we had that Doc queen here and we have another Doc Wing. Which one's Jocko down here? Another doctor there and then we have Shin. He'll green back there and you know, things are drying so we've got to be fast. And it's also helpful because, you know, that gives us a little time to get a little bit more shape on these. Once you do more, then there's some we'll queen there sees there's that that on a few little yeah, And then there is the darkest That's this one here, but again has to be Pierre, then what it looks like on land. So I see missing a little bit off yellow Queen there. And here is also a little bit of evergreen. And here should have a bit of that here way have I need a little bit of that right to and chilled debt down. And there should be a win there headed to wit. Pick that up so it doesn't know me. That's fine. I am getting pretty close to being a happy camper with this. And the only thing is, I want to have this one needs to be Dr didn't will shape initial to that one. This one goes all the way down there. Okay, I'm gonna call it quits with that, and now I'm gonna turn it over on the side again. So you did reflections. I pulled them down towards me. And now I'm cleaning up my brush. You can also use a flat brush for this. But I like you of my dad a brush. And I make sure that I have a really sharp edge. But it's clean and there's a thirsty brush. So now I'm going to try and lift across some course onto lines like that. Clean it out, squeeze out all the water, make sure I have a nice shop pitch, and then I'm gonna lift up another reflection and I'm gonna turn my paper over, and then I'm gonna lift out here and you really try to see if you could get it. Um, hoist, Santel, Don't make them too squiggly and you will be pulling a little bit of pigment out. She like here pulling a little bit of the pigment out. That's perfect, because that's those reflections in the water. And I'm gonna try who lived out a few more. And this is really, really a matter of don't overdo it, that it's really, really important and don't happen to regular. And in here there's a couple places where maybe I left out a little bit of like here those rocks. A little lighter right here could lift that out right here. So show that down a bit. Little court. Yeah, and I'm pretty okay with that. Have to relieve. Yeah, maybe one little reflection right here. Yeah. Put that pigment there. Okay. Can you see it? Doesn't have to be like sugar, precise by any stretch of the imagination since I got that. Which do I look? Block block there. It's a deal new much compared to what I have going on. What I can do. Wish I could go up and put a little bit more right in here. There. So, you know, nobody says you can't fix. You are land to match your reflections Something sometimes. You know, you can even do the reflections first if you like, and then putting the land to match it. 5. Painting The Foreground: all right, show. It's, uh, still. Damn, but I am going to why? There's still damp. Because that way you get a little bit of a fussy edge for my land. My foreground, Um and I'm gonna use just the same colors, so I'm just gonna go in, and I already actually read it so I can go in and I'm going to start putting some colors on still. Damn. And I'm just gonna dat dat into my puddles. You see, here the colors can be brighter than back their course. It's closer to us, so there's actually a good thing to make them darker and brighter. So we get that right sense off perspective. Just see, I just do some random, nearly Willie strokes. And could it be that right there and let's see if we can get a little bit off blue? So again, I'm not worried about the colors. I know they're gonna neutralize each other because I have all three primary colors here, and if you mix them up enough, they are going to neutralize each other trip. And I would like to go in and get a little bit off French ultra Marine blue could you read into it good. Kind of a purple color, and I would like to go in and do a little bit while still will flush out a tiny bit on me. I'm gonna go in and do a little bit of these shapes because this is the time when we have the wild blue pins and these could hopefully read like by a while. Loop. Ines. Let's see here, um, we might just want job. We're here, Just don't want to Hard edged. And there we have that. And then, well, certainly also have some yellow wildflowers. So let's stop a little bit of yellow in. And it's important to me that I get it in now while it's still a little damp so that things would flow out. Of course, you know, I don't want to paint like little hard edged flowers here. And then the other thing we want to get is, you know, some greens, no greens. And so, yes, that and who didn't someone that probably stuff here, There. So they got a very wet, huh? Let's make sure we don't get it running back. So just lift up in a voice auto. Man, I could get away way with that and then take a very sick hate. Yeah, all right. And we can also do some little flicks up. You know, weeds, grasses, who knows what, and just make sure that nothing is true regular. There you go. And then I'm gonna give it Teoh. Still not. And then I'm gonna square about some bigger rock shapes like I did back there. And then we have a lovely little spring landscape ready to go. Okay, I think my foreground is beginning to be dry enough, and she's quite shiny over there. But I have dry spots, so I'm going to start and again just so I don't lay my hand into all the wet paints, I move it over so that I can just scrape from the side here. Yes, this is always a kind of dry That's okay. And that's going from the other side here and scrape out some nice rocks and it's a little weight in some of the areas, but I think it's still okay. And I know I'm going to take the pointy part off my credit card that I cut in half, and I'm just gonna randomly scrape out some little weeds. And one more thing I'm gonna do is I got both my corners a little on the light side. I always like to have my corners Nice and dark. Kind of pushes you into the painting. So I'm just gonna too little hopscotch around all the bottles in my painting and get a nice start. Mutual. You know more. Yeah. And I'm just gonna go in and just too little up like that one still wet. I don't even have to worry about it. You know this for us, shopping edges or anything. Just push is showing through the painting a little bit better there. Which brings great. And it see more cases I can scrape out now. I think that's good. Everything in moderation, right? No one to stop, and I will stop right here. I think this turned out, um, really fun, colorful and, um, lovely little spring escape with their reflections in the water 6. Project description: so thank you so much for watching. And now it's your turn. Your project is to paint your own landscape, using the techniques that we here learn today. So create any kind of a landscape you'd like. That includes some water reflections. It could be lakes. It could be ocean, whatever you like, any season you like. And to make sure you posted to the project gallery, I can't wait to see what you painted and forward to seeing you in another class. I'm going to do some more classes where I talk and show you how to paint different forms of water, okay? 7. Wrap Up Water Reflections: so thank you so much for watching my class. And I hope you learned something new. And I certainly look forward to seeing your paintings. Please make sure you post them on the project gallery page and share them with the rest of us. And I look forward to seeing you in another class. As I mentioned earlier, I am planning a Siri's off different types of water classes where I show you how to paint other types of water. So where Stay tuned and, um, have fun with this little project, and then I will see you in another class happy painting and season.