Friday, December 28, 2012

Winter Forest Watercolor Lesson

Winter Forest
watercolor painting by Rosa Phoenix

Happy Holidays!

Believe it or not, it's cold and wintry here in Arizona, and there's snow in the mountains!

We painted a wintry forest scene in my watercolor classes. 

This is a nice lesson for beginners. We learn about wet-on-wet technique, using masking tape, and color perspective (distant objects are lighter in color and appear blurry, while closer objects are darker in color and have more definition).

Step 1

We start by masking off the bottom part of the painting with masking tape, then applying a pale wash of paint (using lots of water) to the paper in a cool blue lavender color. 

This will be our sky.

Step 2

While the wash is still wet, loosely paint in the most distant layer of trees, using a slightly darker lavender paint that is very wet. I use a small round brush, using a quick back-and-forth motion. It doesn't have to be detailed, because the trees are very far away. 

We want the trees to blend in with the sky, to get a misty look.

Step 3

While our background tree layer is still wet, we loosely paint in the middle layer of trees in a blue green color. The colors will blend together and that's OK.

Step 4

We let our painting dry, and then we paint in our final layer of trees that are closest to us. We use a dark blue-green color paint, and we use less water this time, so our trees have more definition.

Finally, we remove the masking tape and paint the bottom part of our painting. I painted a wash of icy, light blue color.

My students used their imaginations to create a scene here: one painted snowy hills; another painted a deer, and another painted a river with fish jumping in it!

Remember to stay creative and open to possibilities. It's a wonderful way to live life!


  1. hello Rosa, such a wonderful lesson. thank you for sharing this with us. I am just learning to use watercolors, stumbling around on my own at the moment, but am signed up for a class in January.

    thank you for stopping by, always wonderful to hear from you.

    sending you wishes for a lovely winter and 2013~!

  2. I love how the trees look atmospheric in the background and the green trees really come forward. Amazing work.