Watercolor Mountain Top | Kolbie Blume | Skillshare

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Watercolor Mountain Top

teacher avatar Kolbie Blume, Artist

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

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Techniques, Part One


    • 4.

      Techniques, Part Two


    • 5.

      Practice: Mountains


    • 6.

      Practice: Other Stuff


    • 7.

      Final Project, Part One


    • 8.

      Final Project, Part Two


    • 9.

      Final Project, Part Three


    • 10.

      Final Project, Part Four


    • 11.

      Final Project, Part Five


    • 12.



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About This Class

Learn to paint majestic watercolor mountain tops with me! Loose watercolor is all about leaning into imperfection, and using tried and true techniques suitable for any level, we’ll go through the steps to capturing the spirit of wild mountain peaks. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Kolbie Blume


Top Teacher



If you're pretty sure you're terrible at art...

...you're in the right place, my friend. 



Hi there! My name is Kolbie, and I'm a full-time artist, writer, and online educator -- but up until a few years ago, I was working a 9-5 desk job and thought my artistic ability maxed out at poorly-drawn stick figures. 

In my early 20s, I stumbled on mesmerizing Instagram videos with luminous watercolor paintings and flourishing calligraphy pieces, and ... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, my name is Kolbie and I'm so excited for you to join me in this class where we learn all about painting loose snowy mountain tops. I was so intimidated when I first started painting wilderness watercolor scenes by mountains because there are so many crags and shadows. I just couldn't imagine how I could possibly be patient enough or learn enough to really get them right. One of the things that was really empowering when I was learning and teaching myself art was the idea that I don't have to get it right, I can do my best and learn some tricks and techniques to make my eyes look like I'm getting all of these really complicated designs right, when in fact, I'm just messing around and having fun. That's exactly the technique that I'm going to teach you in this class today. This is a beginners course. If you have taken any wilderness classes, or my wilderness classes before, this will build off of that. But if you never have, then you can start from square one and learn the basic techniques and how to paint stunning mountain scenes just like this one. This is our final project, and if it sounds like fun for you to learn how to paint something like this, then I would love for you to keep watching. 2. Materials: Before we can get started painting, we'll need to gather all of the materials necessary for this class and I'm going to do a brief rundown of the materials that I'm using. As a disclaimer, you don't necessarily have to use the exact materials I'm using obviously, you can create beautiful things with whatever you have on hand, but for reference, this is what I'll be using today. Let's start with paint. I am using Daniel Smith Extra Fine watercolors today and a bunch of the paints in my palette I've gotten from these tubes and then dried in here, but specifically, the colors I'm using, indigo and Prussian green, and this Phthalo blue and then new gamboge. The Phthalo blue and new gamboge are going to be in use for the sky and the indigo and Prussian green, I will use to create the mountains and the trees and I'll use these for practice as well. That is the paint I'm using and next, let's talk about brushes. I'm going to be using round paint brushes in size 10 and then 10 is one of the most common size brushes that I use because I think it's a good size for big washes, but especially if you get professional brushes which actually aren't that much more expensive when you get this synthetic kind then, student grade paint brushes, the size 10 should go to a nice point and so you can get really detailed work and big washes with a 10. I always like using a size 10 and then I have some other smaller sizes for when we paint the crags and shadows along the mountains. I have this size 0, this is a Princeton brand, the Neptune series, and then a size 4. This brush is Princeton. These brushes are from the small business Wonder Forest, so these are some brushes that she, I don't remember what her name is but her brand is Wonder Forest and she just sells them on her site and I really like them. Those are the paint brushes I'll be using, and then paper for the practice sessions, I will be using student grade paper. It's Canson XL, pretty common brand. You can get these pads of 9 by 12 inches, 30 sheets in usually like $5 to $7 on Amazon or Walmart or lots of other places. Even though a student grade though, I always use 140-pound weight paper, which means that when there's a ream of this paper and a ream is 500 sheets, it weighs a 140 pounds. That's the weight of the paper I always use and then for the final project, I'll be using this Blick Premier watercolor block, where it's professional grade paper, so it's 100 percent cotton and it's glued on all four sides and I like to buy these blocks because it keeps the paper taut and you can paint right on the block and then you just cut it out from this area right here. But if you don't have a watercolor block to use and you want to keep your paper taut, you can always get painter's tape or masking tape. I always have some in hand just in case and then just tape down all four sides of your paper and keeping your paper taut will help it to not warp so much. That is why I use a watercolor block, but again, 140 pounds. When I do a watercolor, I always use at least a 140 pound weight in paper. Professional grade paper for the final project, student grade paper for the practice, and then I always like to have some Q-tips on hand in case I use too much water. I have two cups of water over here that you can't see. I always paint with two cups so that I can keep one clean and having clean water is going to be especially important for this class because we're going to be utilizing white space in color value. Then I have a paper towel off to the side where I wipe my brush off in-between and then this is just a little ceramic mixing palette that I like to use in addition to, as you can see, my colorful palette over here, just because if I want a color to remain undiluted as I mix and these ceramic mixing palettes mix really nicely. These plastic ones sometimes you have to wear in a little bit or sand it down to not bead, but ceramic or porcelain. This one is ceramic, will mix really nicely. That sums it up for the materials that we're going to be using for this snowy peak class, so gather up what you're going be using and let's move on to the next video. 3. Techniques, Part One: Now that we have all of our materials, let's go over some of the most basic techniques. This is going to be a pretty short video because this basic techniques instruction is something that I gave in most of my classes. But if you are brand new to watercolor, then these are techniques that are very necessary and important for you to know. Basically, I'm going to go over the wet-on-wet technique and the wet-on-dry technique. The wet-on-dry technique. If you never painted professionally or as a hobby before, but you remember it in elementary school, you were probably using the wet-on-dry technique. Basically, that means painting on dry paper. Watercolor, because it's activated with water, is always wet when you paint with it. That's the first wet part of the wet-on-dry technique. The watercolor is wet and the paper is dry. The characteristics of the wet-on-dry technique are not always smooth, but defined lines. That's because watercolor wants to go wherever it's wet. Because it's activated by water, one of the characteristic traits of watercolor is that it wants to move wherever it's wet. If the paper that you're painting on is dry, that means the only place that it's wet is wherever your paintbrush goes, because the watercolor is the only thing that has water with it. You, with your paintbrush, are creating the pathways, basically, for the watercolor to travel, and it's going to stay within the confines of your paint stroke. As opposed to the wet-on-wet technique, which is the second of the two basic techniques we're talking about, which is what happens when you paint on a wet surface. Watercolor is always wet, but if you get the paper wet also, because we know that watercolor wants to move wherever it's wet, then if the paper is wet, that means the watercolor is going to move outside the guidelines set by your paintbrush. Usually, that means it's going to bloom outward to wherever there's water on your paper. You can paint with the wet-on-wet technique using either paint or water. This is bluish water I have right here, but if you want to start your base with paint like I did over here, then you can create just different color blends on your paper, or you can start with clean water and watch as the color blooms outward. Then when it dries, it'll be dry in this cloudy way as opposed to really harsh lines. You use the wet-on-wet technique to soften edges and to create smooth blends. Those are some of the hallmarks of the wet-on-wet technique. I like to use the wet-on-wet technique when I'm painting skies especially, and I use it a lot in other wilderness paintings that I do. But for this class, different from my other classes, more important than the wet-on-wet technique is the wet-on-dry technique because to create the shadows and crags and to emphasize the snow on top of our snowy peak, that we're going to create later on in this class, the wet-on-dry technique is crucial. We're going to talk about that more specific to watercolor characteristics of the wet-on-dry technique in the next video. For now, just note that the wet-on-dry technique is when you paint on completely dry paper, and that it basically just says the paint will go wherever your paint brush tells it to go. Then the wet-on-wet technique is when you paint on wet paper, and the paint goes wherever there's water because that's what watercolor paints always does. You can go ahead and practice those techniques and/or move on to the next video where we're going to do an extension of the wet-on-dry technique and talk about some other important watercolor techniques for this class. See you soon. 4. Techniques, Part Two: We've gone over the wet-on-wet and the wet-on-dry techniques. Now, let's dive just a little deeper into the wet-on-dry technique and how we're going to use it today. This video is mostly going to be a deep dive into two specific aspects of the wet-on-dry technique that I guess a sub technique is what I would probably call these because they fit under the wet-on-dry technique. Then in the practice videos, we will put these into action when we learn how to paint our snowy craggy mountain peaks. First, let's talk about glazing. Glazing is a trait very specific to watercolor because watercolor is transparent. It's not completely transparent and that it's 100 percent see-through but watercolor is not opaque like when you paint with acrylic or with oil. This is the practice sheet that we used in the previous video and because watercolor is transparent, it means that when you paint in layers, you can see usually the layer underneath of what you're painting. If I'm painting on top of these dry little marks that I made, if you look closely and I'll bring this up so that you can see if you look closely, you can still see the straight mark that I made underneath that layer of paint and that's because of the transparency of watercolor. Glazing is when you utilize watercolors transparency and the wet-on-dry techniques to your advantage. When you are using a layer to modify the color underneath by using the layer underneath to slightly change the color you're using that's glazing or when you use a wash of watercolor on top of another one to contrast or change that layer, that's glazing. Really the important trait to remember is that glazing happens when you use the wet-on-dry technique in two separate layers. One layer is wet-on-dry. Honestly, the first layer doesn't even need to be wet-on-dry. It really just means you're painting using the wet-on-dry technique on top of an already painted layer. Glazing is going to be really important as we paint the shadows and the crags on our mountain. I'm just going to demonstrate. I'm going to paint a circle here, it's one of my favorite ways to demonstrate glazing, and I'm going to edit out where I dry it so that you don't have to hear my dryer. But for reference, if you have watched my Instagram videos and wonder how I dry things so fast, I have a hand dryer, an embossing heat tool that I most often use to dry things so I don't have to wait around for things to dry. I'm going to go ahead and dry the circles so I can demonstrate glazing a little bit more clearly to you. I have this dry circle and now glazing is what it's called. When I take another color, say yellow, and I paint right on top of that circle and I'm painting right on top of that circle knowing that especially because I'm using professional pigment based watercolor, that the bottom layer is going to set, it's not going to reactivate. I'm painting for the purpose of blending yellow and blue together so that this middle portion right here is green. Because of watercolors transparency, I can use the layers underneath this top layer to my advantage and use it in my painting without having to manipulate every single layer exactly the way that I want to. In that way, especially for watercolor layers in your paintings, really aren't separate. If you're going to use watercolor to the fullest extent of its abilities and you want to use the layers underneath to help you form whatever it is that you are painting. That's what glazing is. It's using wet-on-dry layers on top of other layers to best utilize all the layers you have together. What that means for our mountains is, instead of painting snow, we're going to utilize the white space and we're going to utilize the layers underneath to paint the shadows around the snow so that it looks like we have a snowy mountain peak and we're going to talk more in-depth about that once we get to the practice round of the mountains. But for now, just keep that in mind. Glazing is an important technique for one you want to use the layers underneath that you've already painted to help form wherever it is you're trying to paint. Let's now move on to mark-making. Mark-making in art specifically is when you basically make marks or paint splotches or blobs. But for the purpose of our class, marks are going to be not shapeless, but randomized shapes that don't really have a specific composition or a specific end goal necessarily in mind. But one characteristic of mark making an art is that they do have expression. It's like using your paintbrush and movements in your hand to make these marks have character and have artistic expression without having to form a very specific subject if that makes sense. I have commandeered the term mark-making for my purposes, for this class because I think it matches really nicely for when you need to make shadows on the mountain. I think one of the most intimidating parts of painting mountains to me was knowing where to place the shadows and feeling like I was never going to be detail-oriented enough to place the shadows exactly where they needed to go. One thing that really set me free from that mindset was the idea that I don't need to know where the shadows are supposed to go. They aren't supposed to go anywhere and I think that plays into my style of watercolor, which is loose watercolor. I'm not in it to paint super photo-realistic landscapes. In my mind, that's what cameras are for. I have so much respect for the fine artists who do paint, those uber-realistic paintings with watercolor. That's not really my style. I commandeered this term mark-making, which is making paint strokes with expression. But that don't have a particular composition or a particular end goal in mind necessarily, to help me understand how to paint shadows on a mountain. When I think about painting shadows, instead of thinking about painting specifically where a shadow would go if I just think about the characteristics of a shadow, meaning I'm using a light color value, color shade, and I'm just painting marks all around the mountain, that really helped me understand how to capture the essence of the shadows and crags on a mountain because honestly it's not like somebody went to a mountain and specifically carved out in very intentional ways where those crags would be. No, erosion and the natural way of things have caused mountains to be formed the way that they are. Like I've said so many times, nature is wild, nature is crazy and random and chaotic and so when you're making marks, when you're making shadows and crags on mountains, it should be just as crazy and wild and chaotic as the mountains are in real life. That means instead of spending hours gently placing marks on mountains where they're supposed to go, I basically just make marks using varying amounts of pressure, like what I'm doing right now and I go down the side of the mountain like that. We're going to go in deeper, I'm going to end the mountain practice video. I'm going to show you specifically how I do on the mountain formation. But before we do that, before you do that, I think it would be really beneficial for you to just take out a piece of paper and practice making marks, practice mark-making on your paper so that you can feel comfortable just moving around your paintbrush. Notice as I'm painting this, my paintbrush is in jerky motion sometimes and smooth motions other times, I'm using varying amounts of pressure, and I'm just making these squiggles, just these marks on my paper without any rhyme or reason in particular and that is a good warm-up to get out a piece of paper. You can do it with colors too to blend the colors together right on the paper. But that is a good warm-up as we practice painting the crags on this mountain because it can be a little jarring if you've never done it before or you can get a little self-conscious. I know that I did the first few times I did it. I was feeling a little silly maybe, but you should not feel silly and it's definitely not cheating. [LAUGHTER] I think that was always something I struggled with. Well, isn't making random marks cheating? The answer is, there's no such thing as cheating in art. If you want to paint the way that you want to paint, you should do that and you should always find ways that work for you so that you can create something that you're proud of and that felt precisely you and that's what happened when I put the term mark-making together with painting shadows and crags on mountains. That is all I have to say on that subject and that about sums up this deep dive into these wet-on-dry techniques that we're going to use for our mountains. Glazing and mark-making, practice those two before we move on to the next or just ruminate and think about them if you aren't practicing with me, but you're just watching this class. But these are going to be really important to just have in your mind and solidify these techniques as we learn to paint this mountain. See you in the next video. 5. Practice: Mountains: Learning to paint landscapes and landscape subjects like mountains. It can be really helpful to look at reference photos. Pinterest is often a good resource for this. I also like to use the website Unsplash. This is their app. Unsplash is a community-based collection of stock photos where photographers upload their photos and you can use them for free. Unsplash is a safe place to look for reference photos because photographers are basically giving you their photos to use for free, for business reasons or personal reasons, or whatever. Unsplash is probably a safer place to go then Pinterest, because a lot of people, I am definitely an advocate for using Pinterest to gain inspiration and look around. But if you're wanting to, especially if you want to sell a painting and you want to paint a reference photo exactly Unsplash is better than Pinterest because you don't have to worry about any of the licensing rights. Whereas on Pinterest, probably most of those photos are copyrighted. Just something to think about anyway. When I'm first starting and trying to paint something new, I like to find a good reference photo. We're going to find one today to help to illustrate the things we're going to be learning. Then we're going to use that reference photo to actually paint our final project. First of all, what I mean by snowy peaks obviously is a mountain top that's craggy and rocky like this that has these mounds of snow. Using the mark-making and glazing techniques we practiced, we're going to create this textured, craggy effect. But what I talked about before in the previous video and earlier in this video is instead of using white paint to paint snow or to paint the lighter parts, we're going to use glazing and the transparency of water to either help the white of the paper come through or the lighter colors we're going to use come through and then use mark-making with darker colors values to paint around the light spaces. There are several different mountains here that I would want to give a go. I think that for our final project, I also wanted to use some trees to frame the mountain. So this composition could be good. But this mountain is also a good example of the top or the summit of a mountain is very snowy with just a few little rocks coming through. Those little rocks is where we would leave most of the top of the mountain like white or a light color and then use a darker color to paint just a few little marks up here and then the marks get bigger the farther down the mountain you go. That's basically an oral instruction on how we're going to use mark-making in the wet-on-dry technique. But now I will show you exactly what I mean. Let's start with just a mountain layer. Because we want it to be snowy, the mountain layer should either be white. You would start with a pencil drawing outline or a very, very light layer. For our purposes, I'm just going to do a very, very light layer. We're not talking about color value much and color theory much in this class, but to make your watercolors lighter, you need to add water. Basically, you're using mostly water with a little bit of pigment to get that really, really light layer. Because watercolor is transparent than the water makes it so mostly the paper shows through. I'm going to use my number 10 brush. I'm just moving my brush, not in a particular way, but I'm moving it a little bit by moving my hand to make some jagged parts of this mountain. Notice how when I shaped this mountain, I used enough pressure to make my paintbrush flat. I'm using all my bristles and that's to cover more surface area because if you try to use just the tip of your paintbrush to paint the outline of the mountain. There's a better chance that the line is going to dry before you get a chance to fill in the mountain basically and so we don't want any dried paint lines. That's why I use all of the bristles on my brush. I'm utilizing enough pressure to make my brush go flat like this, but not so much that it makes a paint unable to paint. I'm not jamming my brush into the paper. I'm gently pushing down so that the bristles go flat and can spread the paint pretty far. Now, we're going to let this mountain dry. Once it's dry, then we'll demonstrate glazing and mark-making techniques to create crags and shadows. Just hold on a bit. Our mountain is dry. Now we're going to add in the craggy, shadowy texture to make this look like a semi-realistic snowy mountain peak. The lightness in the color that we used for the mountain was just this really light gray. The key for adding shadows is to have a darker color. You can be varying values, meaning varying amounts of water and pigment ratios. It doesn't have to be the same one every time. Generally, when we're painting, snowy, craggy mountains with a combination of rock that has fallen out. The mountains really craggy and shadows. Then I like to have mostly a middle-value color for the crags and then a few spots of a really darker color. Then if we're trying to do shadows, then it would be somewhere in-between these two, more like a value that's this color. I think that I might recommend whatever color you're using for the shadows. I have this gray right here, but I think Daniel Smith indigo is very similar to Winsor and Newton's Payne's gray. If you're curious about that, that's an also excellent pigment to create a gradient from, to create some color swatches from to get a really dark version of mid to light version. Then a very very light value version to use for the different layers of shadows. Let's begin. Whenever I paint, I almost always like to start from light and then move on to dark. Because my rule from experience is you can always make something darker if you need to, but it is really difficult to make something lighter if you've made it too dark at first. That's why I like to start with the lighter colors. In general, when painting crags on a mountainside, I think that there's more of the lighter colors anyway. I'm going to start with this darker than the mountain, but not quite as dark as all these other swatches. Still quite transparent, light value gray, and using paint strokes that look like this, that start thin and then go thick and then go thin again, these are the kind of marks that we're going to be using as we're painting down the mountain side. Starting from the peak. I'm just going to make these little craggy marks that fan outward from the peak. Honestly even that seems a little too dark, so I'm going to add water to make my crags just a little bit lighter. Sometimes the crags can be thicker, and sometimes they don't have to have that little tail at the end, they can end like that. Basically, my biggest piece of advice is not really to worry so much about the shape of these crags that you're making. But as you can see, I'm just making varied marks. I'm starting with this peak, this sum, and I'm fanning outward from it. Adding these shadows is like adding depth and texture to the mountainside. I would start out with the big ones. Then maybe I'll do some over here too, and generally, I like to say you fan outward from the peak because that's often how mountains are formed, as they crumble downward and this an angled way. Then if this one mountainside doesn't really have much of a peak, then I would look at where there might be a little mini peak or dip in the formation of the mountain and use that line to spread it like it's this crack, in the mountainside, if that makes sense. If it doesn't make sense, honestly, it's the real method I'm trying to convey and teach here is that it doesn't really matter so much where the crags are, as much as they're there that you've actually shaped them. Because they're supposed to look random anyway, it doesn't matter what they look like so much either as long as it's like an uneven varying widths and pressures line that's moving down the mountain, you can see a shadow or some kind of rift in the mountain side. Make sense? Now that we have that lighter, some of mostly those lighter ones, I'm going to add just a bit more pigment to my palette here and add just a few darker version. Some of the darker versions, I could just use the wet-on-wet technique to make some of these crags have little more texture to them. I can also just paint right on top of the crags I already have. But the trick with the darker ones is you don't want to add too many because you don't want them to overtake the lighter ones you've already made. With a darker ones too, I find it's most accurate to say that like this darker value is where you find almost little dotted textures on the mountain. Instead of these big wide swatches of the lighter value, I'm just dotting my way down. Tapping with my paintbrush still at an angle because especially if you're using a professional paintbrush, you want to maintain the tip of your paintbrush. I'm still at an angle that I'm just moving down in lines using mark-making meaning I don't have a specific composition in mind. I'm just randomly moving my paintbrush around. Then if you feel like you want to add one final layer of marks, then use the darkest value you have and only add a few. That's my biggest recommendation. Is to not go overboard on the really, really dark ones, because otherwise, it's going to overpower what you've already done. That is basically the method that I use to paint mountains. When I paint specific kind of mountains, like if I have a reference photo or something, then I'll often use that reference photo as a guide for where I put these marks. When we move on to our final project, I'm going to show you exactly what I mean by that. But for now, this method of moving one layer at a time, getting darker and darker with each layer and using less and less paint, using less and less surface area for each layer, that is how I create these loose, craggy mountains. This mountain that we've created, the layer underneath that we've left, see, we've still have some spaces of that very most lightest mountain layer, that could be interpreted as snow all around. It could also be just lighter rock. It's up to your interpretation, I guess, or how you paint the surroundings around it. For our final project, we're going to paint a more snowy one, so I'm going to show you how specifically I make this summit look slightly more like it definitely snow as opposed to this which could look just like a craggy mountain. We have that to look forward to. But for now, practice your mountain shadowy mark-making for our loose watercolor mountain. This is probably the most basic form that I would use, because this is just an introduction to this style of painting class. But practice those marks, practice those layering, and let's move on to the other stuff that we're going to paint to set the scene. 6. Practice: Other Stuff: Now that we have painted and practiced our mountains before, we can actually dive into our final project. Just a brief video on the other stuff that we're going to paint. You have time to practice if you feel like you need to, behind my mountain, I'm going to have the beginnings of a sunset. The bottom of my sky is going to be a light yellow and then it's going to blend into blue. I don't know if you have noticed around twilight or right before the sun starts to set. But the sky turns this amazing gradient where it's yellow at the bottom and gradually shifts into blue. Almost so there's no green, because yellow and blue make green. I'm going to try to mimic that sky. I'm going to show you how I do it as a practice before we actually do this gradient on our final project. I use this phthalo blue, the Daniel Smith phthalo blue, to start at the top. Then because adding water makes a color lighter, remember, it increases the lightness of its color value. Then I'm going to just paint with water down to the middle of this area. Then, now that I have that blue part, so the wet part of my sky, my practice sky right now is just this blue, this really light blue. That's gently blending down to the middle. Now I'm going to take my yellow, which I'm using this color called new gamboge. This is actually going to be a good time to use my ceramic palette because, my yellow space on my other palette is taken up. I'm picking up this new gamboge, deep yellow. Then adding lots of water to it. Then starting towards the bottom with my lightened color value, new gamboge. I am going to start painting from the bottom. [NOISE] Then once I've reached the middle part where the blue would meet the yellow, [NOISE] I'm only going to use water to blend these colors together. I have some puddles of green where the yellow and the blue blended together into each other. So I just mopped those up with my Q-tips. Now wherever needed, I'm just going to add different colors to make the gradient look pretty smooth. It doesn't need to look, I'm not looking for a super smooth gradient necessarily here. It's okay, if you have a little bit of green, I think that middle color is really pretty actually, so you don't need to worry if you don't quite capture the no green look that I initially mentioned. It's really okay if there's a little bit of green in-between. But, and for this, I'm not really looking to create a really smooth gradient. I want some texture in my sky. I'm going to talk about that more when we actually get to the final layer. But this is basically how I do it, how I paint skies. I get it wet first with clean water, and then I add the colors that I want. Oftentimes, if it's two colors like this blue and this yellow, then I'll start with blue at the top and then yellow at the bottom and just work my way toward the middle. Then use water, clean water to help blend the colors together in a really smooth way. That's this guy and that's the, exact this guy that I'm going to use for the final project. Then to frame our mountain, to frame our mountain peak, we're going to paint trees. I have lots of other classes that go more in depth into tree painting. I'm not really going to talk a lot about that, but I'm going to show you one technique that I use most often. Of my own invention, it's called the blobby technique. Basically, how I paint these loose pine trees is, I start with a line for the trunk and I try to keep the tip pointy at the very top. Then I basically just paint blobs on either side of the trunk. Just like that. You'll see, I start from the middle of the trunk and then I lift up on my paintbrush so that sometimes I can get these little points to add some texture to the pine tree. But the point of these pine trees and is this loose style is that it's not super realistic. It's just supposed to look loose and cool. That's why I like this style of pine tree. I'm going to demonstrate that again. Sometimes I call, when I point up the needles like that, I call that the wispy technique instead of the blobby technique, but they're similar to each other in that. I mean, basically I'm just like making blobby marks, like mark-making. I'm not really paying much attention to where my paintbrush goes. I'm just making the general shape of what I know it is, moving down. I like my pine trees to go all the way down to the bottom. The thing about pine trees, when you're painting them is, you can make them this triangle shape if you want. Or you can honestly make them a little thinner and just have them, they can be basically the same width all the way down. You don't have to have them go all the way down like I do. They can stop a little bit up like that. Pine trees often exists like that. There are lots of different ways that you can paint pine trees. [NOISE] But this is the general method that I use to paint my pine trees. One of them anyway, and the one that I'm going to be using today is just making these blobs. These blobs just by if you want to see that in slow motion. I'm basically taking my brush at an angle, and pressing down and then moving my brush outward like that, from the trunk outward and then lifting up. That's the blobby shape that I'm doing. If any of them have a shape, it would be that shape and then sometimes they don't really have a shape all around it, if that makes sense. But this class isn't so much about pine trees as it is about the mountains. So I'm not going to spend any more time on that. If you are interested in learning more about pine trees and how I paint these loose pines, feel free to check out my other classes. But for now, this will wrap up this other stuff video where we talked about the sky and we talked about pine trees. I'm using the Prussian green for the pine trees. I'm going to paint to frame our mountain peak. That wraps it up for this video. Now let's move on to our final project. 7. Final Project, Part One: Welcome to our final project. We learned how to paint these craggy mountains using layers of marks, using glazing, which is just painting wet-on-dry layers on top of already dried paint. To make these craggy-looking mountains, we learned how to make this easy pre-sunset sky and these loose watercolor pines that will frame our mountainside. Now that we have all of the elements we've practiced, let's put it to the test and actually paint our final project. I'm pulling out my blick watercolor block. Step 1 of landscapes for me is typically almost always the sky. Let's get right down to it. I'm taking my large brush, number 10 brush, and getting the sky. I'm just going to paint the top half-ish, maybe a little less than half, maybe the top third, maybe a little more than 1/3 of the paper, and I'm going to get that wet with clean water. Remember I always like to paint with two cups of water, one that I always keep clean so that I don't have to go back and forth if I've ever muddied the water with whatever color that I'm using. I'm using clean water here. Then I'm going to take some Phthalo blue, that's very diluted with water and start at the top. Honestly, I grabbed a bunch of pigment with this one, so I'm probably just going to use water and not reach into my palette for more pigment because I think this is enough. If I use water, this is enough to bring it down and get it to as light as I want it. This is going to be a little bit brighter of a sky than maybe I anticipated, but that's okay. I'm just moving it down to about the middle. Lighter, making sure that it gets lighter as it goes, cleaning off my brush in-between, and using clean water to pull the pigment down. Now I'm going to use this new gamboge, deep yellow that I already had over here. I'm not going to start at the very bottom of where I painted the sky, I'm going to start just above from the bottom, and then use water to paint upward, like that. One way to get cool textures, splashes of color in skies I like to use, one method is to paint upward and then lift up my paintbrush while it's still wet. I'm just going to demonstrate again. I'm painting going upward and then I'm just lifting up. That blends the colors together in a natural way, but also gives splashes of colors in individual layers, like I have a little splash of yellow moving into the blue right here. I think that's something that often happens in skies. What makes sunsets so beautiful are the splashes of color that encroach on each individual layer. That's one method that I use to achieve that look. Remember how I said don't start the yellow at the very bottom, now I'm going to use clean water and create another gradient with the yellow so that it gets lighter as it goes down. The yellow is the darkest. If the sky ends right here, the yellow is the darkest, exactly in-between the bottom of the sky and where the blue starts. It's this middle layer of yellow that's the darkest. We're trying to get it lighter towards the bottom because actually, we're going to end the sky more like right here. We don't want tons of the yellow seeping into our mountain. But it's okay the little bit of it is. By seeping, what I mean is, once this dries and we paint our mountain on top of it because of the transparency of watercolor, the yellow is going to show through because our mountain is going to be a light color. Because it's going to be a light color, it's going to allow the transparency of the yellow. The transparency of that color is going to allow the yellow from the previous layer to come through. While we do want a little bit of the yellow to show how the sunset is starting to reflect off of the mountain, we don't want the whole thing to be yellow and we don't want any dried paint lines towards the bottom of the paper. That's why we are bringing down the yellow and almost blending it into the paper as our layer so that the yellow just ends seemingly without any fanfare, just blends into the white of the paper so that there's no yellow dried paint line as we paint our mountain. But once we do paint our mountain layer, a little bit of the yellow layer underneath will show through and that can just enhance the effect of the sunset reflecting off of the snow of the peak. With that long arduous [LAUGHTER] explanation, this ends the first layer of the final project. I'm going to go ahead and let this dry and then we will move on to the next layer. 8. Final Project, Part Two: Welcome to Layer 2 of our final project. We painted this pre-sunset pre twilight sky and we waited for it to dry completely either by waiting the natural way or using an embossing heat tool, which I have. The key here is that this needs to be dry completely. If it's wet at all, it's going to make our mountain look not quite the way that we want it to look. For reference, I am using, to paint the mountain anyway, I'm going to use this photo from Unsplash that I pulled up in the previous mountain video. I'm going to use this as a reference for the rest of my painting basically. I'm going to do this style mountain where it's like a triangle right in the middle. Then it almost looks like the snow is zigzagging on the way down. I'm going to try to make my marks using that style. First, we need to form the base layer for the mountain. Before I get going, I want to note that it's okay if you're using a reference photo and it doesn't turn out exactly right. That's totally fine. I honestly think it's good because I think that it stretches your creativity more when you look at a reference photo and use it just as a starting point. But then incorporate your own style and your own twists into it. I talk a little bit more about this in my copy to create class. About how to use inspiration photos, and inspiration from other artists as a way to help jumpstart your own creativity. But then how to move away from copying exactly. That's something I'm really passionate about and I use all the time using reference photos and tutorials to start, and using them as inspiration to start and then moving away from them. Anyway, that's my little spiel button and I'm going to paint these mountain sides. I'm going to go from edge to edge. I'm starting a little beneath where the yellow is. I'm using this lighter version. It's a little darker than I initially anticipated, so I'm using water to lighten it up a little bit and using the full pressure on my brush so that the paint doesn't just immediately dry because I do not want dried paint lines. I want it to be a little craggy and just go off to the side like that. Then I'm going to take water and bring the pigment down. Just like that. This is the first layer of our mountain, the base layer, and I want to make sure that it's plenty light. I think we're good. Then I'm just going to bring down this layer just a little bit more with some clean water mostly so the pigment doesn't dry into a line like I talked about in the previous layer. Now I'm going to wait for this mountain layer to dry before adding my wet-on-dry marks to give it some texture. 9. Final Project, Part Three: This mountain layer is dry. Now we're going to add the wet on dry shadows and crags to paint the snow and the shadows. I'm just going to keep this reference photo here so that we can look at it as we're painting. Again, this doesn't have to be an exact replica. This is just a general reference photo already my mountain is slightly differently shaped, but I am going to use this to my advantage to help place the wet-on-dry shadows. Because I like to start with light first let's take a look at where the lightest parts are. In the previous mountain practice video, I said that the lightest areas usually were the biggest and take up the most space. I don't know if you can see very well here. I'm just going to show you this mountain up close. There are some parts of this mountain that are shadowed like this peak right here is casting a shadow on this side and there are some shadows over here and so that's what I'm going to paint first this very light gray. Then after the light gray is when I'm going to add in the darker, rocky parts around it. I think it's different instructions from the practice video because I don't think this light gray is going to take up more room than the darker grays of the mountain. But I do think that they are going to be wider and expansive on the mountain. They're going to take up more surface area. I'm not going to use this size brush actually. I had a size 4. I also have basically all the sizes on hand. A six or an eight I think would be good too for these shadows that we're going to paint that are going to help give a shape to the mountains. I'm going to use this piece of scrap paper to dictate the color of my shadow because I want it darker than this, but very light also. I think that color will probably work, so we'll just have to check it out. Again this is indigo with a lot of water. This color is Daniel Smith indigo, which is very similar to Winsor and Newton's Payne's gray. The shadow, let's see where the route the shadow is. For the most part, I want my crags to be random. But the shadow starts with a peak and is just jagged along the ridge making a triangle line in the mountain. I'm going to show you how I'm going to do that. If it starts at this peak right here, I'm going to start it right there. Then I'm just going to create a jagged line like that. Then I'm going to fill it in so I need to move quickly and it didn't go the full mountain ridge. It stopped here in the middle. It was creating this little jagged triangle almost in the mountain. I just moved my paintbrush in a random manner, knowing the general shape I wanted to shadow to be. I'm going to do the same to extend the shadow and other places. I don't want to use too much water here. There's a little shadow in a triangle shape that could show the shadow of a ravine or something right there. Maybe another one just down right here. Let me see if there are any other big ones. I think that was mostly the big shadow because see how my water is paddling means my brush is too big. I'm trying to make too small of shadows with this brush, so I'm just taking my Q-tip and mopping up. I'm only going to use my eight brush for the big expansive shadows. Maybe because my mountain is extends it a little bit more than this one, I'm going to create another shadow over here that doesn't really exist in the reference photo but I'm going to pretend that it does, because that is what we do as artists. There's really not so much talking as I'm explaining what I'm doing here because again, it's mark-making. It's just me deciding. I'm going to put a craggy shadow right here and starting where there was a little dip in the mountain ridge and just extending it so that it goes down at an angle. Moving my hand or moving the paintbrush slightly so that I'm not having the smooth edges of the shadow, but they're more like craggy and textured. That's the look that I'm going for. It can be tricky to get the hang of making marks like this. I really know, and so it's good to practice before you do the real thing. But just know that everybody always feels uncomfortable when they lean into rarely just letting their hand move wherever it is an uncomfortable feeling. I totally get it. Now I'm going to take my smaller paintbrush that I think this is my size 4 again and just make a few more of these really light shadows before we move on to our darker ones. Am just going to paint maybe one along the side like this. At this point, I'm using this as a reference photo. The biggest reference for this layer of shadows I needed to use was right there. I'm mostly going to use the reference photo as a reference when we do the really dark marks along the mountainside for right now, it is like lighter shadows. I'm just moving them wherever there are going to be too many of them. I'm just about done I think. I'm going to call that good. Then looking on this, I think the shadow might just be a little bit too white, so maybe I'll add some water to break up the pigment a little bit. But that's okay too. If it's not exactly as light as I had intended it to be. Good to know for next time. That concludes this first layer of the mountain and now let's move on to the third layer of the mountain to add in the final dark parts to wrap this all up. See you soon. 10. Final Project, Part Four: Now that our second mountain layer has dried, let's move on to our third layer. We did this layer with a pretty light shadows and now let's add some darker shadows. First thing that I want to do is test out the color values so that I get the right one in my palette. I'm going to pick up some of this indigo, and it already has some water in there, so on my scratch piece of paper, I'm just going to see how dark that is, and compare it to this mountain. I think that is probably pretty good. We could go a little darker. But remember, you can always go darker. It's really hard to go back to light. I think, I'm going to go just a little, just a smudge darker over here, because I want this to be fairly dark. Then if I want to add some more texture within, I can always add some really dark pieces later. Now that I have my color in my palette, I'm going to use my reference photo just to provide a general sense of where I'm going to be painting. As we talked about in the first project, mountain project video, this seems to me like the snow is kind of zigzagging, and so it's almost like in places there are these little diamonds, like diamond shaped shadows here. I'm not going to paint diamonds exactly, I'm going to use the mark making techniques I already recognized, and this is a little bit further down from the summit. Down in this area, and I'm just going to paint diamond shapes like this. Like this is a diamond shape, but I just moved my paintbrush all over and I made sure to leave some white spaces in between to represent the snow coming down here. We still want to have these to emulate the zigzag of the snow. I'm not going to spend an hour and paint exactly the design of this, I'm going to look at this spot right here. Maybe I'll show you up close. I'm going to look at this spot right here, and notice it seems like there's maybe four squares or four diamonds of dark right here with some snow in between. I'm just going to roughly paint in a square or diamond shape and leave some snow in between. But I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself to get it exactly right. That's where the mark-making comes in. Where I'm just making the general shape of a diamond and I'm using this darker shadowy color, then I'm just going to let it go. Like in this, I wasn't really paying much intention to where my paintbrush was, I just used varying amounts of pressure, varying lengths of the stroke, and created a rough shape of what I think that would look like, and so that's basically what I'm going to do for the whole mountain. If I go back to the top, the top of this summit only has a few dark spots, and so I'm just going to make some few little dark marks. I hesitated to say dark mark because of the Harry Potter thing, but because that's what I'm calling these little random wet on dry shadowy things. I'm calling this a version of mark-making were common during mark-making to use for this mountain. I'm just going to make a few of those along the mountain side because I want to leave most of it white. Because this is a snowy peak. The summit, we want to leave mostly white, and then around the shadows and around the white-space, then I'm just going to keep adding this dark color. You can look back to your reference photo and try to copy it exactly. But I'm not going to do that. I mostly brought this out to help me get the feel for what a mountain would look like. I can go back to it as I want if I do want to try to make things look pretty similar to how they would look in the photo. If I want to make it a little more realistic or whatever. But I'm also just going to let myself loose, let myself and my paintbrush free to move wherever and paint the shadows in the natural wild way that they should be in the first place. I will note that there are a couple big shadows. They're not even really shadows, just where the mountain is coming through from the snow. Whereas at the top of this peak there's more white down here they should be more dark. I am going to note that, but I'm not going to spend like I said, a long time making sure that it looks exactly the way that it's ''supposed to. " I'm just letting my paintbrush go, making sure to leave some white spaces in between, so I'm not just painting like giant swatches of paint completely filling in this layer. I want to leave some white because that's where the snow on the mountains churns through. But I also want to just keep putting these marks all the way down. But I do want to leave some spots where it should be more wide at the top, and then in some spots it should look like a zigzag. Keeping that in mind, even if I don't get that exactly right though, I'm not going to worry too much about it. I'm just letting my brush do it's thing, leaving some white spaces. Then if you want to leave even more of these black dots, this isn't black, this is still indigo. But the way the rock peppers among the snow, you just create even more of these, like tap with the side of your brush to create more of that textured look and that's great. This is my mountain. I'm going to take some really pigmented paint, and using the wet-on-wet technique, I'm just going to go in some of these wet shadows, and just to add a little bit of texture and color contrast, just tap in some dark spots so that it just adds another element of contrast, to the shadows, and crags and mountain texture that I just created. Now that we have this layer done, honestly, I'm going to call that mountain good Now, does this mountain look exactly like that mountain? No, of course not because this is, as I've said before, loose style watercolor. But it does look like a mountain. And once we put, especially once we put the trees to frame the mountain side, I think that the scene is going to look really cool. So another disclaimer I want to put here is, of course, there are ways for you to hone this technique and make your mountain look slightly more realistic, but because this is a beginners class, I really want you to just lean in and let loose and let your paintbrush just move and not worry about things looking 'realistic' or things looking right, and just let your paintbrush move across the mountain to create this crazy technique. Then the more you do this, the more you'll be able to refine it and make your mountain look even more, maybe what you were hoping. But I genuinely, I really love the look of this style and so that's why I made this class for you. In the future, I may do more advanced snowy mountain class, where we go slightly even more like even deeper into specific formations of the shadows and whatever. But for this class, I just want you to let loose, enjoy the mark making, and let the wilderness be infused in your mountain by guiding your paint and your hand only loosely and just letting it roam free. That is it for this layer. Let's let it dry, and then we will paint the trees around it. 11. Final Project, Part Five: We have painted our snowy, craggy mountain, our loose, snowy, craggy mountain. Now we're going to frame our piece with some trees. I'm going to do two layers of trees. I'm going to do the first layer of trees at the base of the mountain, and then I'm going to do once that dries another layer of trees that are more in the foreground of the painting, but the trees are not the main event in this painting. They really are just to frame the mountain, so that's something to keep in mind. I'm using Prussian green for my trees. If you've ever taken any of my other tree wilderness classes, my one rule, not one, I have several. But one of my rules for distance especially to create depth if you're painting layers is, the farther away you are, the lighter the trees are. In this painting as you can see, it's slightly different because obviously the sun is shining on these trees. So the darker trees are in the back and the lighter ones are in the front. But we're not using this exact photo as a guide for color necessarily just to see what the trees would look like as they frame the mountain. With trees, I either use a small paintbrush, like a size 0, or if you use your handle, your paintbrush very carefully, you can use the tip of a larger paintbrush and to paint the trunk and paint everything else. You just make sure to want to use it on its side because if you use a paint brush like this and use the tip this way, if you use too much pressure, you're going to quickly misshape your paint brush so it won't be quite as sharp of a tip, and that is really what you're paying for when you purchase professional paint brushes. The round shape is the fine point, the tip at the end of the paintbrush. That's my little spiel about that. Because we know that we want our darkest or very darkest trees to be the foreground trees and we want these background trees to be lighter, but we also want them to be dark enough that they cover the mountain side. I'm using a still pretty heavily diluted Prussian green here. I'm going to paint a tree right on top of this mountain layer using the methods that we talked about. I'm going to make this layer disappear into the bottom of the page, and this is a technique that I often use to create mist. I have a misty forest class if you're interested in learning more about it. But basically, I'm just creating a layer of wet underneath the tree line that I'm painting here so that when I paint the trees, when I put them along and paint them along the bottom here, they're going to blend in to that wet layer so that you can't see the bottom of them anymore, and it just creates the stark, cool, misty technique. I'm going to paint these trees just along the bottom of this mountain side. Whenever I paint a tree line, I always like to paint them in varying sizes so they're not all the same shape, not all the same size. If you're doing this misty technique, you do need to move fairly quickly usually. Otherwise, you need to make sure to rewet this bottom portion that you're using for the trees, which is fine too. You can see I'm using a pretty dark pigmented version of this Prussian green right now. For my next layer, I might even add a little bit of indigo to the Prussian green to make the trees even darker. We'll see. This is how I often do these final projects. Just make decisions about color palette and composition on the fly because that's just how I roll. I'm making sure I'm using this blobby, wispy technique, and I am just painting right on top of this mountain layer. It's a little busy, but that's okay. Then to make sure that we don't have any dried paint lines, I'm just going to bring this layer all the way down, but I still want them to look like they're just misting into the bottom. Exactly like that. That is one layer of trees. We're going to let these dry and then paint the final layer of trees. [NOISE] My first tree layer is dry, and now I'm going to take the darkest pigmented version of this Prussian green and I'm even going to add a little bit of this indigo. Actually, the indigo goes a really long way. Now I've turned up mostly indigo. I'm grabbing a lot more Prussian green and adding it so I have this dark turquoisey green color. I want it to be very dark. I'm going to paint a few trees, only a few that span mostly the length of this paper. This one's going to be just a skinny one. I don't want these trees to be giant because there's supposed to be like a frame for the mountain. The main event in this piece is the mountain. Any tree that I paint, I'm painting it just so you can see it as a frame for the mountain. Not just so, like it also adds complexity to the painting. It's always fun to practice and paint more things. I made this like a skinny tree, as you can see. But I think it's easy when you're painting tree layers in the foreground to make the tree layer the main event. For this class, because this class is all about craggy mountains, just make sure to remember that the main event is still the mountain. Then I'm going to paint just another tree right on top like this, just right on top of that previous layer so that these trees are layered on top of each other. Even if your tree layers are basically like you're basically painting on top of the other stuff that you've painted, so it's like, why did I even paint it? I think that it just adds more depth to your painting when you add layers and layers of forestry like this, layers and layers of subjects. It doesn't even have to be trees really, but it does help. It doesn't make your previous work useless basically, is what I'm saying. It only makes it look cooler, slightly more realistic like a real landscape, whatever that's supposed to mean, is painting these layers and layers of trees. I think I thought that the first time that I painted layers of trees is, well, why do I even paint the other one if I'm just going to cover it up? The reason is you can still see bits and pieces of it. You can still see parts of the layer before coming through the other tree. That's what we want to emulate, that there's just so much in nature and you don't quite see everything. You only get to see bits and pieces sometimes, but that doesn't mean it's not there. You're just adding even more depth to your painting. I'm just going to paint some smaller trees, but these are more like they're going to be treetops down here. I'm not painting them like they're trees necessarily. It's more like I'm seeing the tops of these trees that extend further down than I can see. That makes sense. As I'm using this point again, the point on my paintbrush, I'm painting at an angle so that I can preserve the point as I paint. Because the more you like pound your brush onto a paper like that, the more you're going to lose the shape of your brush, and then you'll have to replace your paint brushes more often and that just gets expensive. So if you know about how to take care of your brushes from the beginning, it'll be a lot easier to maintain that care and save your money. I am just about done. Maybe I'll do one more to get a little bit more paint in my palette here for one last tree that goes right here just to fill in some space. Then I'm just going to make some marks along the bottom here just to fill in some space the same mark, blobby things that I do to even paint the trees. I'm just filling in that white space so it looks like a full forest. Now, as a final touch, I'm going to take my small paint brush and paint three little birds flying out from the mountain. Just add more depth and complexity and more elements to the scene, and I'm finished. We went through all the layers here. We painted the sky and then we painted the layers of the mountain, which is the main event of this piece, and then we painted the layers of the trees to frame the mountain and finished off with these birds to just tie the piece together. Thank you for taking this class with me and going through the steps of painting this loose watercolor mountain. I'm sure there are lots of classes that teach various methods that are different and maybe even better than mine, but I really love this method and I hope that you enjoyed it too. In the next video, I'll do a quick recap. But if you don't stick around for that, I understand. I just want to say thank you for joining me. If you really loved your work and want to share it, please tag me. My handle on Instagram is this writing desk, and I would love to cheer you on and see how you did. Yeah, I guess that's about it. Once again, thanks for joining me and I will see you next time. 12. Recap: Thank you so much for joining me for my snowy mountain peak watercolor class. I had a really fun time putting this class together, especially as I mentioned in the intro video, because watercolor mountains were always so intimidating to me, and while the result that we came up with wasn't exactly as realistic as a photo. That's not really what I'm going for, if I wanted to paint really realistic mountains, I could just snap a picture or I could spend hours and hours doing it, but what I love to do when I paint is to have fun, learn a few simple tricks to make my paintings beautiful and capture the essence of the wilderness, and I think that I achieve that at least I feel like I did with my final project. I hope that you had a good time if you really loved this class, I have dozens more on wilderness topics about trees and other things in the wilderness on Skillshare so make sure to check out those classes. If you really liked this class and think that other people would too, the best thing that you can do for me is to leave a review. I love hearing from people, and I love getting feedback, so if you leave a review, I would really appreciate it. If you have any questions or anything else you'd like to ask me or bring up as far as feedback goes, you can also leave a question or start a discussion on the community board. Then last but not least, I would love to see all of your final projects, so please feel free to post them into the project gallery, and if you decide you just love it so much, you want to share it with all of your network, and so if you post your final project on Instagram, please tag me, my handle is this writing desk, and I do a few rounds of features in my stories a month of all my Skillshare classes, so if you make sure to tag me in the photo and in the caption, that'll make sure that I see it and I may just share your final project with all of my followers too. Thanks again for joining me and I hope to see you next time.