Painting Shimmering Sunset Abstract Cityscape Watercolor | Jacqueline Jax | Skillshare

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Painting Shimmering Sunset Abstract Cityscape Watercolor

teacher avatar Jacqueline Jax

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

6 Lessons (34m)
    • 1. Painting Shimmering Abstract Cityscape

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Painting your sunset

    • 4. Painting Water

    • 5. Painting Abstract Buildings

    • 6. Final thoughts and Asignment

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About This Class

In this class you will learn how to paint shimmering sunset abstract cityscapes in watercolor

In this class you will learn how to:

  • Use flowing watercolor paint : liquid and tube paint
  • Understand how paint flows and how to control it
  • Learn how to be bold and fearless as you paint

The focus of this class here today is to help you put the theories of abstract art painting into practice.. 

By the end of this class, you will be able to paint the painting demonstrated, and be better equipped to tackle abstract cityscapes on your own. You will also be able to handle flowing paint easily and no longer fear the unexpected. 

Follow along and you will be able to finish with this painting:


Connect with me on instagram and Facebook at Jacquelinejax


Meet Your Teacher

Hello, I'm Jacqueline.  I've been making art since I was 12. These days I'm a professional fine artist doing portrait commissions and making a full time living selling prints from my watercolor drawings. If you want to learn about the beauty and incredibly unique properties of working with watercolors, come take my art courses. I'm uploading a new class every week that include a mix of material reviews and advise with techniques for all ages and skill levels. Get ready to be inspired as you explore your own art journey and start painting like a pro in no time. Be sure to subscribe to my courses for Bonus Courses on building a business with your art and how to use social media to gain exposure and make art sales. Great to meet you. 

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1. Painting Shimmering Abstract Cityscape: Hi there, I'm Jacqueline Dax. I'm gonna be teaching you how to paint this beautiful shimmering sunset. It's modern abstract art, which is one of my favorite things to work in. And we're going to be using liquid water colors. If you've never used them before, you will be amazed at how easy they are to work with and how much fun you will have making art with them. Alright, so let's go in and get started. 2. Materials: So here are the materials that you're going to need for this class. First, you're gonna need some watercolor paper. A 140 pound is the best. I love that if you can get all cotton, that's also wonderful. If not, then there are great watercolors, sketchbooks, and also lots and lots of different papers to choose from for you to have fun with. But the heavier ones work better when you're using a wet on wet technique. You also need some masking tape or some kind of tape to tape your paper down because when it gets really wet, it's going to work a little bit. So it's always convenient to have it down. I have it taped onto a board here, but you can also just tape it on to the surface that you're using. The thing is, is that you wanna make sure whatever you're taping it too, you can actually move the surface. Because if you want to slide around, that's obviously ideal. If you don't have anything to tape it to, you can just keep it in the book that actually holds the watercolor paper and tape around the edges. You can also use the backing of a watercolour paper or just a piece of cardboard, whatever you have. Also, another thing that you can use is if you go into your kitchen and you have a cutting board that's the same size as your paper or a little bit smaller. You can use that. You're gonna need some masking tape to tape down your watercolour paper, which I'm doing on the screen right now. Any kind of tape really works. A lot of people use the washy tapes. Those are really good. You don't want to rip the tape off though until it's fully dried. Otherwise, it'll take some of the paper with you. Just a little note to remember. Watercolour brush is important. Just your brush of choices fine two glasses of water, one for greywater and one for clear, so that you have a clean one all the time. A palette knife or a credit card will really be great and handy. A spray bottle with water is always amazing to be able to reweight your surface. And as far as watercolors go, I'm gonna be using a liquid watercolour. There are Dr. ph. Martin watercolors. The ones I'm using for this one is the shimmering metallic peerless watercolors, which I'm going to show you in just a second. Don't forget to bring some paper towels or a rag like a dish rag to wipe off messes and some to paint is always handy. Now this palette, obviously I keep at hand to put the two painting or just for excess so that I can washy things around. I've also got this neat little box that I keep a lot of watercolors in for my projects. It's just easy because it's got a ceramic palette in it. And then some of my two colors are just on hand. For this. You're going to be using the tube paint for when you want to create more of the cityscape areas. But then you're going to use the liquid paint for just blending out that background and getting that beautiful sunrise or sunset, whatever it is that you decide to do in your painting. But I'm definitely going to use both different kinds of watercolors. So you might want to experiment with them yourself. 3. Painting your sunset: Painting your background. All right. We're here, we're ready to go. One thing I want you guys to remember is that the flow of watercolour paint is the actual art. And happy accidents are what make an artist unique and unusual. You're never going to find out what kind of artists you're going to be unless you make mistakes and you deal with those mistakes. And as you do, that's what's gonna show in your work and become what is most identifiable about you. So a lot of the techniques that you see came by a happy accident and you're gonna do that too. So to get started, let's choose the yellow because we're obviously doing peaks in orange and yellows. I took the liquid watercolour right out of the, the vial and I'm just adding it to the centre. Now, this is not wet on wet yet. And you can see this one. You could start by adding wet to the paper first, but I started this way so that you can just have this option. Now normally, if it were wet and the surface is very wet, you would see the watercolor starting to bleed out. The water colors very controlled right now. And I'm a little place it where I want it just because they haven't wet the paper yet. But we're gonna do that in just a second. So I'm adding a little bit of the yellow, I'm adding some of the crimson, and I'm adding some cotton candy Pink, which I love. So those are the three colors. Now, obviously, if you are familiar with color, you know that the yellow and the red are going to make a really beautiful orange. And also the pink and the yellow are even going to make an even prettier orange and have shades of pink, but also Shades of deeper, deeper reds and oranges through. So that's why I'm using more of the pinks and the reds together because I just really love the colours. Now I'm just kind of like running over the paper with it and just having fun, just enjoying this moment in time before the water kicks in. Because once the water kicks in, things start to move a lot quicker. And of course everything changes and that's when your creativity really gets pressed to find its journey and find your mojo. You know what I mean? When you paint, you really are on a journey and you have to remember that for sure. Okay, the water is coming, so we're taking our spray bottle. I am lifting the bottom of the page up so that the water runs forward and I'm just starting to spritz it down. Now, you're gonna start to see all kinds of really cool things happen. And this is when you need to have patients. You need to have patients and you need to watch where it flows and just let your creativity kind of happen. You don't want to rush the process because you can always read wet it and you can always add more paint. I think the important thing is just to enjoy watching it float around and see where it goes and where it takes you. Because remember, this is a happy accident, right? When you're working with something unpredictable. You just want to let it flow and you want to see what happens. Now. Because I didn't want the paper in the beginning. I am going to need to add a lot more water and start moving the paint around because the paint needs something to push it if it were wet on wet, which is another technique I'm going to show you. Then the paint would move by itself and it would start to combine. But on this one, I used it at full strength and they used it on a dry piece of paper. And I let it just kind of like mold and shape as we went along. And then I went with the flow. Now again, remember the lower part of the paper is not as wet. You can see where it's just kinda glistening so it doesn't really want to travel. And now I'm just kind of starting to wet and pull that down with my flat brush. Now you can use a flat brush, you can use any brush, a sponge. You can even just use your spray bottle to wet the page underneath it and then tip it up and let everything start to run down. There's a lot of ways to do this, and this is where your own unique character can come into the painting. It's pretty cool, right? I know. No, don't worry about those little marks on the top because I happened to just do them when I was laying down the paint, my my brush was kinda running through it, left marks, but this is totally not a big deal cause it's going to be covered up later for you. If you don't want to see those marks, then certainly just don't let that that bottle dropper touch your paper because it will scratch it. And actually anything you put on your Weber's on the scratch it. So now I just added a little more water and I'm letting it kind of flow and burned down. Notice if I added a little more yellow to the center, it would even brighten that up, which I'm gonna do right now. And this is where like I think experience comes in because I've not really afraid of the colors and I want you not to be afraid of the colors when you're working with them. A lot of people are terrified that their gonna mess it up. But this is where I'm reminding you, happy accidents make the best art. It makes the most unique art. And if you didn't have happy accidents, you would be a photorealistic painter. And that's not all that exciting because honestly, the photo is the more exciting part of the photo-realistic painting. Because it was the photographer that came up with it. You're coming up with something unique. Look at their swimmers perilous. Thank you so much for giving me these shear lists there. So pretty, the shimmering watercolors are amazing and they're metallic line and I'm so excited to show them off. I had such a good time. I think it did like 12 paintings with the bottles that they sent me. And I am just so in love with these watercolors. The shimmer IS just, just enough, right? And it just makes the prettiest original sunsets. So see how the yellow is combining with the red, and then that's combining with the pink. So now I'm taking the cotton candy pink by peerless from the metallic line. And I'm adding more pink because I really want to like just enhance it and to get that beautiful color that we saw in that finished painting. Again, remember guys, you're the artist here. You don't have to follow my exact example. You can choose any colors you want. And you can just go with the flow and start adding and mixing colors together. I really do. Advise you though, if you just started mixing colors, get out of scrap piece and just see what these colors do. Like put them side-by-side, add some water, and then just let them flow together and start mixing at them to see what happens. Because if you look at the color wheel, there's like three basic primary's, right? Red, blue, and yellow. And then there are these sub colors made off of each one. So yellow and red are gonna make orange and that's like a subculture. And then that secondary colour wheel is really where you can go wrong. Because once you start mixing primaries, you get beautiful secondaries. But then if they mix together again, you get the third row of colors and that can go muddy really, really fast if you're not used to your colors. So I think the best thing to do is just experiment before you actually hit a bigger piece. But again, what's the worst that can happen? They can go muddy and you learn from it and maybe you'll still like it. Maybe it'll look really cool. So right now, I am actually wiping off some of the water color and the water below to get my hair. 4. Painting Water: There are so many ways to paint water. This is the wet on wet technique. So now that I have the top kind of work done, I'm going to start the bottom. And first I'm just adding water, lots of water so that I have that nice overall even water surface to apply the paint too. And that's really going to help because what that's gonna do is it's going to allow this liquid watercolour to just flow like crazy. And I think that's really important because for this bottom part, you're gonna see this beautiful kind of combination of colors and had to get that effect, that swirly effect that you saw in the, in the sample. You really need the wet on wet. And I showed it to dry on wet. Right. The wet on the what pain on dry in the top. This is what? A wet. Now wait until you see what happens. We're going to take the paint and just apply it right on the wet surface. I always think this works out best when you use just one or two, no more than two colors. When you get further along with it, you can add a third color if you want to maybe add some depth to it, but never add white to this because it'll make it MCI, always just go with the purist colors. So try and stay with what is the like the first primary color. Now this is a little bit of aqua blue that I got from them, and also a little bit of a deeper blue that I'm going to use. So I'm going to use 21 is the indigo. And the other one is called blueberry and loved the two colors together. This is the blueberry is just beautiful right now if I used yellow, I would get more green. So as this is going to head up towards the yellow, that's going to form my green line that you see in the final draft of the painting. And of course, I always think in this is just my personal preference. I always feel like by adding the light color in first, I can kind of control how much of a slide I want and the radiation shades that I'd like to have in the painting. I've tried dark before. There's another tutorial that I do on the northern lights. And in that one, I use the indigo first. And I actually unlike it, but I love it on this one because I used the indigo last and that was mainly so I could control how much light I hadn't the picture for the reflection of the water. Now remember this is what I'm wet, so we added the first layer and then before it dries, I'm actually taking the indigo now and I'm setting it in. And I'm literally the, the wetness of the surface is carrying the paint. And that's what we're gonna do is we're going to let the surface be wet. And before it dries, the key is to add the paint and then move it around a little bit just by tilting your paper so that it can form these organic, really interesting shapes. And that's what you're seeing me do here. I think it's really important that you just aren't afraid of it. You know, like I said, happy accidents are the way to go. So don't be afraid to let it flow and then add a little more paint and see what happens. The vision here for me personally is to try and keep a lot of the light in the final painting. I didn't really want it to get too crazy dark. But again, at the same time, I wanted the little light areas to like kind of be my water reflections where a lot of times you'll, you'll use a brush to add those in, right? But in this case I'm going to leave some of the area of the blue and you see the really cool stripes of white. Reason why let that happen was because that is actually what's going to make the brightest areas of the water come alive. And you're going to see this now in this technique to get those, those really cool little effects of the water, what I did is I put it there, right? I slit it around and then I added a ton more water. So you're seeing right now What's happening as I spray, I'm using the spray bottle to add a lot more water and I'm letting it slide around. And one of the things that happened here is the blue started to go up to the top. That is a happy accident. If you noticed in the final, in the final draft of this project, there was a little bit of a streak that almost look like an aurora borealis, right? It looked like this incredible streak that goes up in the sky. That is a happy accident. That's exactly what that is. And it's funny that it happened here on this because you probably would have never noticed it if I wouldn't have pointed it out to you. But the fact that I pointed out to you now you're gonna be like, oh yeah, that's how that happened. See, happy accident. So here it comes, layer number two of the color. So now that I have a little bit wet and I don't know, it's drawing a tad, right. But you can still see some Pooling where those, those runs are going. Now I'm just kinda going through and imagining a layer of drops. And I'm watching as the pattern starts to form naturally from what this particular watercolor wants to do. This is where you learn to let go. This is where you learn like, okay, I'm dealing with this particular colour, this particular kind of watercolor. Let's see what it does and let's just go with it. This is where you go with the flow and then you realize, and you take note that this is what happens with this scenario where I have a certain amount of wetness on the paper, a certain amount of fluidity in the watercolor, whether I'm using two watercolor that I watered down or if I'm using the liquid watercolour, whatever it is that you're using, that's what this will do. They won't ever do the same thing. But the same watercolor in the same paper will probably do the same thing again. And I noticed that if I change the paper, it will flow differently on different papers. If I change the water color, it will flow differently depending on the consistency of the color and the make of the company. So that's where, you know, experience just kind of comes in and being able to be fearless with your journey here. This was so much fun to do though, and I'm sure you're so excited to do it yourself right now because it just was like, okay, let's just not moving. Let's add some water CM spring or the water right now it's going to move a little further. Let's see what I can get it to do. The blue is mixing with the green. That's so exciting. I love the color that it's mixing too. So I was literally on this exciting journey with the people when I was live streaming and they were just getting to watch it all come together, you know, some taking brush here and I'm tapping at this little area that was not wet enough. And sometimes some of your areas will dry. This is where just get fearless, don't worry about it. It's a happy accident. It will all work out and you can always add more once it all dries and go over it again. You can even reactivate watercolor with just more water, you know. So as long as you kind of learned that you really can't do much wrong. Because even really wrong stuff looks so amazing. And you just, it will always look different and it will always be something you'll always remember, right? Especially if you film it. I love to film my watercolors so that I can remember what I did and look at the layers as I went along. But if you just fearless and you just brave and you just say, I'm just on a journey for this. I don't even care if it works out. You're gonna surprise yourself. Now look at that. You see the streaks. I did not try to overly controlled the watercolor. I just went with the flow and it got these really cool, watery streaks in there. When they dry, they're gonna look amazing and get ready because here comes the street going down, I'm adding water like crazy water right now. And you're gonna see the yellow mixed with the blue and get this really beautiful light green streak all the way down my page. I'm just using a little cloth to kinda cut it off a little bit, but I'm letting it flow. And way too, you see the shimmer on this watercolour. It's amazing. Now, I actually love stuff like this. And this originally was a happy accident. But as you can see in the final painting, it actually makes the painting so unique and unusual. And that's what I love about just being brave and going with the flow and that fighting watercolor. That's what's so exciting about water color. You don't get that with anything else. Now I think you are going to be sold on watercolor as much as I am. 5. Painting Abstract Buildings: I am so ready to paint the city, are you? So now that we have the sunset in and we have the water in, I am actually now just kind of playing with some of my to paint and mixing some areas. So what we need to do is we take the two paint and put it like on a dish or anything. We're going to get either the palette knife or your credit card. And you are going to start adding it to the areas of your painting where your horizon line is. So this cityscape we're gonna pick right in the center additive horizon line and just go for it. I'm just gonna start making some buildings and doing some really rough areas. Now if you feel that you don't wanna do it as abstract or rough as I do then by all means, you know, you can use different tools. You can use paint brushes, you can do whatever you want to. But just remember that you want the base layer to dry completely before you start painting over it. In some cases, Now, I have very often left. It went like this. This is still got the sheen on it and went ahead and added my abstract stuff in because I like it too. Sometimes just kinda combine and I like it to have feathered edges. It doesn't always have to be sharp. And if I want more sharpness, I just add a little more paint, you know. But this is entirely up to you, this point. This is something that you're going to see me do on a wet surface. And again, some of it is a little more dry. Some of it is very, very wet. And occasionally I'm gonna dip my palette knife or my credit card or whatever I'm using into water and just really liquefy some more of the pain to get it to move. So it's kind of intuitive. Very much be brave again. Don't worry about everything being perfect. This is just you designing and being on a journey, letting your creativity flow, the more you let it flow in, the less you fear, the more you will enjoy yourself doing this. If you try and work under constraint all the time, you're really not an abstract artist. Abstract is so wonderful because it allows the brain to loosen up and just flow and just do what it likes to do. And that's what you really want. You want to get on this journey of happy accidents and things that you never expected to happen, because that's what's gonna make you feel so good at the end of this, losing control and not trying to control watercolor is what makes an amazing watercolor artist. So the colors are seeing me lay down our mix of primary colors really. I mean, the purple is made from red and blue. But you can also just use purple out of the tube if you have your favorites, I used orange, which was made of yellow and red. I mean, if you know how to mix colors, you can pretty much get any color you want. And it's kinda fun because sometimes I will put yellow and red on the palette knife and just let them mix right on the paper. And then as I keep dipping, it just becomes more and more mixed. What I want you to pay attention to is the reason why I left. This piece a little more damp was because if you can see where the dampness is, the paint is hitting it on the lower portion and drawing the paint down. I actually wanted that to happen. Now remember we painted the top part first so that it had time to dry. Otherwise, we would get these blooms where I put the paint for the buildings and I didn't really on this home want the blooms at the top, but I did want to play with having some blooms in the bottom because remember, it's a building reflecting a water. So in essence, you're going to have some reflections of the building on the water. I mean, it's abstract, right? So it doesn't have to be, if you don't want reflections on the water, you don't have to. Maybe this is a slice of the earth, you know? And so therefore it's not really reflecting. Maybe you're looking down into the bottom of the Earth and its roots. But for this one, I wanted the buildings to reflect on the water. So I have my surface slightly tilted up so that it will run down. I left the I went ahead and added this paint in as the bottom was still drying. And if it dries a little bit, you can always take a spray bottle, remember and just go ahead and hit it with some more water. Or you can take a very wet fluffy brush and you can go put the water right on where the paint is and draw it down. I mean, there's a lot of different things you can do and I encourage you to experiment with as many as you want to. So I'm just taking the palette knife again. I'm taking more that read more of the magenta, whatever colors that I want that I really felt like went with this piece. And I'm just adding it to the horizon line and pulling that down because eventually if I hit that with water, it's going to cause it the reflections to happen. And it's going to allow me to pull more of the paint down into the reflections and you'll see that in just a few minutes. So the final stage after I kinda get in a lot of the buildings, add more color is I'm taking a little more of the paint and I'm now starting to draw it into the water area so that I can mimic the reflections. Ultimately, we're going to have to go, well, I'm going to have to go a lot deeper with it, right? Because the reflection is going to be equal to the distance of the building moving up. And that's a little bit of realism within an abstract. That's just my personal choice. Listen, you can do it any way you want to. But if you want this exact effect, I tend to take the distance of the building going up and then I add color onto the water surface or the ground surface in the same area directly below it. Now remember, it can be if the light was over to the side, then you could do the reflections sideways, you know, a little more across. It just depends on where the light's coming from. But because I put my lighting in the back, I just feel like a wanted the reflections to go right below it. So you can see I'm just kind of pulling that paint down right now. And just with a dry palette knife, the pellet wave has a little bit of wet paint on it, mixed with a little bit of water to make it a little more fluid. 6. Final thoughts and Asignment: And that concludes this water color class. Remember guys, they have more watercolor classes on my page if you want to take more art for me, this was an amazing project and I had so many great compliments on it. It was such an awesome journey too. And I'm so excited to do it again and again and again. So things you need to remember what this is. Use water color as a flow. I mean, just don't try to control it. Let it just do its thing and put it where you think it's gonna make you happy. I think that if you paint from happiness, you're always going to look back and have things you'd want to change and maybe do differently or try differently. But ultimately what it's going to make you the best artist is just letting the journey happen. Because those happy accidents, as you can see a little of this painting, those happy accidents are what make it so amazingly unusual. And that's what people really love about my paintings. You gotta understand that paint is going to flow and watercolor in itself is just an unpredictable medium. But that's what we love about it. That's what we fall in love about it. You know, you got to learn to be bold, learn to be fearless if you really want to be respected as an artist and you want to make a difference in the world, you have to start with yourself first. Don't forget, these were Peerless water colors. So if you want to find them, just look for peerless PER LES S. These are the shimmer line there, metallic. So I use metallic sunshine. I used blue raspberry. I used cotton candy, the crimson, and the indigo. And I can't say enough good things about these. Of course, there's a lot of different liquid water colors out there. I think. I don't think peerless is sold on Amazon. You have to go to their website. But these are the only shimmer I've ever found that have this amazing shimmer in the material like it doesn't separate. A lot of the other companies when you get swimmers, they either get too thick or they separate and they just don't have this evenness. I love the way this looks, right? It just looks so unique and so beautiful. This company has been making watercolor for a long time and I can totally tell I've used their products and other watercolor things and they're really great. Now the to paint that I used on this was by Mission Gold Magellan. And I really like that, especially for beginners, because like some of the other watercolor companies, those colors, they just flow really quick. Another good one to use as Sri Lanka, there good watercolour company that comes in tubes and there's a lot of them out there. You just try them all? I would just try them all and just enjoy as you do. Because at the end of the day, you know, watercolor lasts a long time. It's gonna take you a while to use these. You don't need to pour a ton in your dish. Just use a little bit at a time. You could always reactivate them with water, but honestly, you get things like this with great quality watercolors and theirs totally worth experimenting with. Alright guys, I hope you enjoyed this watercolor tutorial. Remember an abstract, There are no rules. Just do your thing and see if you like it later. I highly recommend that you film your watercolor experience. Just put a phone or something above it so you can watch it back later. I really learn a lot by watching myself work because I literally don't remember. I'm just in the journey and enjoying myself to music and just having a ball, which I actually do live on YouTube if you want to come join me. But at the end of the day, be bold, be fearless as you paint. And remember, every single painting is a journey. You never know what's going to happen and that's what's so exciting about painting. I cannot wait to do another one with you and I hope that you'll take another one of my classes. Don't forget your assignment. And that is to be bold and fearless and just crazy with your colors and come up with something amazing and leave it for me so I can see what it is that you created. I'm also on Instagram. If you want to tag me up there at Jacqueline Jack's, either way, I want to see what you created. So don't forget to show me, guys. Thanks for taking my course and I'll see you on the next one.