Watercolor for Beginners - 3 Summer Landscapes | Jana Raninis | Skillshare

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Watercolor for Beginners - 3 Summer Landscapes

teacher avatar Jana Raninis, watercolorist

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Summer Color Palette


    • 4.

      Painting #1: Wheat Fields


    • 5.

      Painting #2: Pathway Through Meadows and Fields


    • 6.

      Painting #3: Evening at the Lake


    • 7.

      Special Class Project


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Painting landscapes can be so relaxing and fun, especially when you know how to abstract from all those overwhelming details and how to choose the color palette to create a harmonious piece.

You say you are not sure?

Well, this class will help you with that!

We are going to paint 3 different watercolor landscapes together, using limited color palette and fun and useful techniques to depict a summer cloudy sky or a reflection of the trees in the calm lake.

The class is beginners friendly, we will go step by step painting each one of these landscapes, and before that, we will talk about the colors, specific color tones and how to mix them.

The reference pictures used in the class can be found attached in the Resources section.

List of colors used in the paintings (White Nights series watercolor set):

Raw Sienna, Ultramarine, Burnt Umber, Olive Green (Olive green mixed by myself: Ultramarine+Cadmium Yellow Medium)

Music used in the videos:


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jana Raninis



Hello, I'm Jana.

I live in Slovakia - a small lovely country in the very heart of Europe. I have studied Arts years ago, and since I was a little child, a set of paints or crayons was the best present anyone could give me. But then life happened and I found myself doing a corporate job instead of illustrating children's books. However, it does not mean I gave up on painting and drawing - not at all.

In fact, it is pretty much how I spend my evenings, my free days or even lunch breaks sometimes.

I just love it! Especially watercolor. One of my art teachers once told me I would eventually end up with acrylics, because watercolor is just too unpredictable and the mistakes are too hard to correct. Well, she couldn't be more wrong :).

I am here today to share my p... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello friends, welcome to my class. My name is Yana and I love bringing you new ideas and tips how to improve your watercolor art. Today's topic is a center landscape. This is my first class on landscapes. Although I paint them all the time, I love painting them. So I'm really excited. We are going to paint three different landscapes, all inspired by my favorite places. We are going to span techniques to paint summer sky. And we are going to explore how a really minimalistic color palette can be more than enough to create a lovely painting. I hope that the techniques we are going to try it together. It will be also useful to you in your other artworks you are going to be working on in the future. So let's talk about the art supplies and then let's paint. 2. Materials: Let's talk about the materials we are going to use in today's class. First, this is my watercolor set, White Nights. I use it all the time. It's affordable. Watercolor said with pretty regular color selection. Nothing special. We are going to use very limited number of colors today, so no worries if you don't have a set that is this big. Regarding watercolor paper, this is arches, 100% cotton paper. It's 185 GSM. This one is not that expensive as 300 GSM kind. And that's pretty cool job still. These are my brushes. I love this mop brushes with nice big bellies, which can help out of liquid and helped me make my wash is smooth and seamless. This is size two. Next I have my medium brush. This one does not even have a size written on it. It was already cheap. I would say it's something like a size six or eight. Now my liner brushes for the details and fine lines. We are going to use a lot of water today. So I recommend you to tape your paper to a piece of cardboard. Cardboard or even your desk. It'll prevent the paper from curling and you will get nice white frame after the tape is removed. This is just a regular masking tape. Now I have here two jars of clean water to charge so that I don't need to change the water all the time. And also some paper towels to clean my brushes. And for some nice trick, I will show you. We're not going to do a lot of sketching today, but for that little bit of it, here is my pencil. And it seems we have everything we need. So let's begin. 3. Summer Color Palette: Before we start, I would like to talk a little bit about the color palette we are going to use today. Because it's semi landscape we are painting. I want the colors to feel warm. Also. I like using few colors in one painting, which helped me to achieve the harmony and prevents the scene from looking too busy. I'm going to show you which colors I will combine together and why. And in case of some special color tones like the olive green, I will show you how to make similar tone in case you don't have it in your set. Basically, my favorite color combination for realistic summer landscape is this one. Ultramarine blue for the sky and raw sienna for the ground. In my opinion, these two colors are absolutely the best. You can use them right out of the pan or have fun mixing them together. Raw sienna and ultramarine create one of my favorite Grace I use for the sky and shadows. Mixing moral sienna into the blend, you'll get some lovely earthy greenish grays and light brown tones. Just this tube paints are enough to provide you enough colors and tones for harmonious painting. I love combining these two colors with some nice warm green. And my usual to go green, olive green. This color is not usually in standard watercolor sets. I bought it separately and I use it quite a lot. But even if you don't have this color, you can mix very similar one using colors that you most certainly have. And those are ultramarine blue and some warm yellow, like in this case, it is cadmium yellow medium. For the olive green color, you need to have slightly more of the yellow in the mix. But the best way to see is to try for yourself. So take your time to make it the green color that you would like the most. Besides the olive green, ultramarine blue, and raw sienna, we are going to use also burnt amber, which is a nice warm brown. Mixing. Burnt umber and ultramarine will give us a lovely dark gray. For the three trunks and branches. Guys sick all the time. You need mixing these colors. Having fun, exploring new color tones. Once you are ready, we can start with the first of the 37 landscapes. 4. Painting #1: Wheat Fields: First one of the three paintings today is going to be the easiest. We're going to paint a lovely golden wheat fields under a blue sky with some fluffy white clouds. This painting is inspired by the fields today are just ten minutes walk from my apartment. You can see that I already have this kind of landscape in my sketchbook to for dispensing, we're only going to use two colors, ultramarine blue and raw sienna. I started with taping my paper to a hard part. The paper I use is 21 by 15 centimeters and it's only 185 GSM. So it will buckle more than 300 GSM kind. That's why it's good to fix it to something firm. No big sketching here this time, I just wanted to suggest the horizon. And it is the lower third of the paper. Dividing the picture to the third is one of the basic composition rules. Next, I want to work on this guy. First using my mop brush. I'm applying clean water to the whole sky area. I'm leaving out the lower third where the field will be. Now, I use rich mix of ultramarine blue and I apply the color on the upper part of the sky. And in the lower part, I'll leave some blank space. That is the foundation for my white cloud. Now, I'll show you a trick that I absolutely love. Take a piece of clean dry paper towel to take off a little bit and then folded allele using your fingers. Now full of the shape of the cloud, you suggested tapping and lifting the wet pigment from the paper. Every now and then, turn the piece of paper towel in your fingers to fight a clean spot or gesture of some new piece. This way you create nice, realistic defined edges for your clouds. I'm adding also few smaller clouds, about the biggest one. Again, just lifting the pigment app using the paper towel. Maybe you ask, why would it apply the water first? Well, based on my experience, applying clean water before the pigment, makes it easier to leave the color app. Because the paper socks in the clean water first and then the colors taste on the surface longer. Therefore, it's easier to lift it up. Now I'm just playing with the shadows on the clouds. You see these clouds are fluffy and have a very irregular shapes. We can depict it using very light mix of ultramarine blue and just randomly apply this color to the body of the Cloud, making it look more realistic. If you feel you went too dark, use the paper towel again to remove the excess pigment. The clouds look wonderful. Now we have time to move to the lower part of the painting. Again with my mop brush, I apply water and mix of raw sienna. Now it's looking very flat, so let's add a little more color. I am making horizontal brushstrokes using rich mix of raw sienna and also a bit of raw sienna and ultramarine next, which will give me the idea of shadows on the field. Now the field is still quite wet, but we can work on the first layer of the wheat growing here. I have my liner brush and what I do is that I simply draw vertical lines first using plain raw sienna and also the mixed with ultramarine. Next, the paper is still wet. Majority of the lines will disappear. So now just take a break and let the painting dry before adding some more details. I used my experts trying groom, aka my south-facing balcony and my paper is now ready to work on some smaller details. Again, with my liner brush, I draw some more vertical lines. This time you can see that they stay visible and defined. I use raw sienna and the bluish gray mix as well. The lines have different height and thickness. We are almost finished just for a bit of crisp. I'm going to add few tiny details to the wheat or not to every single vertical line we have here, but only to some of them. And I'm going to draw the width spikes. It's going to be very easy. I just randomly select the line and then using the fine brush and draw a few tiny lines on both sides of the stem. Let's do it. I don't want to overwork it. I think it's enough. And the last thing to do is to add a flock of flying birds. I have my liner brush and they're all CNR plus Ultramarine mixed. And I'm drawing simple leaf shapes. And that's it. The first of today's paintings is finished. I hope you like this very simple some landscape. And we'll tell your results. 5. Painting #2: Pathway Through Meadows and Fields: Second landscape is inspired by the countryside around the village where my boyfriend's parents live. We spent quite a lot of time there and I love walking this piece fulfilled and metals. I chose this photo as a reference picture for today's class. So after I fixed my paper to the board, I'm going to do a very quick sketch. I don't want any details. I just want to mark where the main objects are and how the pathway goes. Now I'm again going to start with the sky. First. I apply a layer of clean water to the area of the sky. Next, using my mop brush and ultramarine blue, I paint the sky. I was the blue color to be darker in the upper part of the sky and going lighter and lighter as we go closer to the horizon. So what I do is that I apply the color on the upper part of the paper. And then I'm lifting the hard board with the paper using the gravitation to move the pigment gradually to the bottom part of the sky. You can also help it a bit and add more clean water to the lower part of the sky. That would make the blue gradient wash even more seamless. Now I need this guy to dry before we continue. So let's take the advantage of the really hot days we have now. This is my tiny balcony and I sometimes use it to speed up the drying process as the sun shines really strong here. To just few minutes for the paper to dry so we can now continue with the ground. I know it can be overwhelming to paint a landscape based on the photo because you see all these tiny details of the bushes and the grass and leaves that we are not going to worry about it now, first thing to do is to apply a base layer of color that would help our painting to look more harmonious. I apply the color following the leading lines, like the pathway and the roles in which the crops grow. To introduce a bit of a three-dimensional look to the painting. The first layer is light. I use raw sienna and olive green. Here where we have the pathway. You can see that the ground is a bit lighter, so I'm lifting up the pigment using a clean damp brush. The brush would suck in the liquid from the paper together with the pigment and give you a lighter color as a result. Now, while the first layer is still wet, let's add more color. Wet on wet. I still don't care about any details. I look at the photo and try to identify the darks and lights there. Then I roughly apply the color accordingly. So for example, I see that there is a strip of darker green color mixing the horizon line. Or on the right side there is a big bush. There are some red grasses growing next to the big three. So you can see that I'm not drawing them one-by-one. I just suggest the shape of the whole bunch of them. Now, of course, the tree. I'm still using the mop brush so the color is applied roughly, know tiny branches or leaves. The green color I'm using for the three and Bush is a mix of ultramarine blue and olive green. Adding more blue into the mix will give me darker and colder tone. Now that as I paint the shape of the tree, I'm leaving out a tiny bit of the sky through the leaves. It's a nice way to add texture and highlights the trees and bushes. You can add also few drops of pure ultramarine to the tree, especially to the left and bottom part. That will give you a nice trading. Also the bush. You can see that the sun is shining from the right side and the bush is casting quite a big shadow. So I'm adding more ultramarine to the left bottom of the bush and also to the pathway where the shadow is cast by the grass. This photo was taken after 06:00 PM. So the shadows are pretty long. As the watercolor dries quite light. I'm again applying some darker green color to the left part of the landscape. Okay, I think we have the colors and values than alright. Now let's add a bit of a detail and texture. But no worries, it's going to be very easy. Basically, what we see here is a field of wheat and some grass. So I'll take a thinner brush and I'm drawing simple vertical lines to the field era. And also by the pathway. I'm switching between olive green and neural sienna. The paper is still a bit damp, so this initial layer of texture will not remain much defined. We're going to add one more layer later, but first let the painting dry. Mine is already is 36 degrees today is killing hot. So I can work on some details. First, you can see that there is a row of trees in the distance. I'm using my medium brush and ultra marine foods, olive green mix. And I'm painting these trees is just an uneven line of green color. But it's clear to everyone the dose or the trees. Now this nice push we have in the foreground, there is a shade on the left part and also on the actual bush. So I have mixed ultramarine and raw sienna and I'm painting some spots on the postdoc, also the lower left part. And it is casting a shadow over the pathway as well. So here I'm drawing that shadow lying on the ground and few more darker spots on the bush. Now, I want to work on the pathway. You can see that the shadow is on the left side of the stripe of yellow grass. And it's pretty pronounced. It gives us the line that is leaving the eye towards the tree. It holds the composition of the painting. So it's quite important. I have my small brush so that I have a good amount of control over what's happening on the paper. And then mixed myself a fresh rich mix of raw sienna and ultramarine for the shadow. I'm holding onto the direction of the pathway, having the expressive yellow grasses right next to the shadow. And now I just add few more simple quick grasses using pure, raw sienna. I am satisfied with the pathway. So let's add few more grasses and weeds to the left part of the painting. I am changing the colors. I use olive green than raw sienna and also the gray mix. Nothing else is needed. The painting has enough texture that does not seem too busy. The colors are nice and harmonious. There is enough contrast between the light and shadow. Let me know if you have any questions to the process and of course, share your paintings. 6. Painting #3: Evening at the Lake: The last painting is going to be summer evening on the lake. I painted this picture last year based on a photo I took when we were out swimming in a nice little lake nearby. It was such a nice peaceful evening. I follow this photo when painting, but I decided to leave out this big dry three in the middle. So I would like to paint the scenario once again with you. Again, I taped my paper to a hard board. There will be quite a lot of water used and this paper is quite backlink when wet. Good. Let's make a quick sketch. The same as before. No details, just a rough sketch of where the main objects are. The three is the horizon, the lake, the sky will be wet in wet again. So let's apply clean water to the area of sky, and then let's paint some nice warm summer evening. The sky appears to be yellow. There is also a blue part, but around the sun, it seems yellow. So I'm using a light mix of raw sienna and applied on the wet paper. Also suggesting the SAM, which is basically wide circle. Because the paper is wet, the shape of the Sun would be disappearing or losing its definition. But I have the good old paper towels to help me control the curve spreading. And now I'm painting the rest of the sky light blue, ultramarine again. The two colors should create nice seamless gradient wash if your paper is wet enough. And now I'm just correcting the sun and the sky is done. We can now work on the lake. I'm using the same light raw sienna as for the sky. Maybe a bit lighter, even some light ultramarine as well. Just like when painting the sky. Note that I leave out a thin stripe of dry paper between the leg and the sky. It's very important to make sure the light is really light. And now I'm creating the first layer of light color on the foreground. While the lake is still wet. Let's Spend the reflection of the trees. On the other side. I have my medium brush and sepia color, and I'm just dropping the color right under the stripe. The pigment spreads immediately and creates a lovely reflection in the water. Now I add a bit of ultramarine and then R-CNN. In the meantime, the foreground is already dry and I can start building up the layers of the leg, grasses and plants. So I have a worn a mix of raw sienna and olive green. And I'm applying this color in short, vertical brushstrokes. The foreground is composed of countless vertical objects. And instead of drawing every single graph, I will build up the richness of the greenery using several layers of simple brushstrokes. Same goes for the tree. Instead of painting each tiny leaf and applying the colors in rough, uneven dots and gloves, leaving out some of the sky to see through and suggesting some shadow down on the left side. Now, I'm bringing some shadows and darker tones also to the foreground, creating a contrast and texture we need. Now we can leave the foreground to dry a little bit and we can focus on threes, casting the reflection in the water. The reason why I paint the reflection first is that I have less control over what's happening on wet paper. So I let the reflection turned out somehow. And then I adjust the real trees, which I paint on dry paper accordingly. I started with a stripe of a warm, raw sienna, that is the grass and the sun is shining on. Then I mixed myself a cooler green tones using olive green and ultramarine. And I'm following the reflection and painting the trees based on that. Here I tried to finish the big three on the left side, but as you can see, the leaves are still not dry. So I'm going to focus on the biggest three on the other side. I just add few thin lines to represent the branches and trunk. Now we're ready to add some of the plants that grow by the lake. I have my liner brush and a mix of burnt umber and olive green. This is how the lake grass looks. It's really simple. The simple grass covers the shore of the lake, so I'm drawing it in different mixes of olive green, burnt umber, and raw sienna. Under the tree on the left side there is a bunch of grasses casting a shadow below. Then let's add this shadow using ultramarine. Now a few more leg grasses in the foreground don't be afraid to use different colors. Now the three seems to be dry already. I have my thin brush which throws really fine lines. And I drove several branches and twigs picking out from between the leaves. I used a mix of ultramarine and burnt amber. And that's it. Let's see how the painting looks when the tape is removed. I must say, I really like it and it really has this relaxing evening, right? 7. Special Class Project: Guys, I hope you had fun painting this simple similar landscapes with me. And I would like to encourage you to maybe use some of these techniques we spoke about today. And as a special project, paint your own salmon landscape. Maybe an adult you like working with your dog or a field behind your parent's house, or some lovely place you visited while on vacation, or just choose one of the paintings I showed you and painted yourself. Just don't forget to take a picture of your project and upload here into the project section. I'm always very happy to see how it went for you. 8. Final Thoughts: Friends, thank you for being here with me today. I had a lovely time painting this sunny, warm summer pieces. Maybe you painted all of them with me, maybe just one That's okay. Just please upload your paintings for me and your classmates to see. I'm always over the moment someone uploads. So if you have any questions or comments, I will gladly answer. Just use the discussion section. I have more stuff here, so feel free to check it out if you feel like it. See you next time. Bye.