Tag Archives: Usk Valley landscape

Wednesday Warm up landscape

When I returned to the UK from the States in 1993, I moved to Crickhowell (the Magical Town of Crickadoon)  in Wales.

Crickhowell, sits in the beautiful Usk Valley where the Black Mountains and Brecon Beacons meet.

Having living and worked in the States for 28 years, I needed a place where I could immerse myself in nature and get back to basics.

The following landscape exercise reminds me of the surrounding hills where I walked just about every day that I lived there.

I start out by painting over an old sketch….I am using a mix of watercolour and gouache to give necessary coverage.     


Using Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache, Permanent White,  I indicate the sky next to the mountains.

When I first arrived in Wales, I didn’t consider myself to be a landscape painter, however the drama of light play against the hills was far too exciting for me not to record it.

Note that some of the underlying original sketch is showing through….this helps to give the image a sense of luminosity, and depth.


I now add some darker clouds and blue into the sky and add the same colours into the foreground.

Moving colour around an image, brings a sense of balance and harmony.


Using a wash brush, I drag some of the white from the sky into the mountain area.    This is a spontaneous watercolour and so this is done while the paint is still wet.

I use a smaller brush to indicate the sun’s rays over the dark hills.    Note that the underlying original sketch is showing throughout the painting….just hints of it, but enough to give the desired effect.


Remember to allow your brush to dance across the image.    This is all about warming up and PLAY. 

Here’s a Magical Hummingbird for the day.




A Bientôt

Tutorial 12 – Landscape exercise

I prefer to work from life, however it’s fine to use photographs, especially when they are your own.   Always remember that the photograph is simply a Jumping off point.    We are painters, not photographers. 

This quick watercolour landscape was painted from a photograph I took in the Yorkshire Dales.   Much like Wales, where i lived and worked for 12 years, the landscape changes constantly…one moment vibrant and energetic, the next sombre and brooding. 



Frame 1.

I sketched out an horizon line….and wet the area above the line, using a wash brush.   Note that the area below the line is kept as dry paper. 



Frame 3. 

I then apply a fully loaded brush with juicy paint into the wet area and allow the colour to bleed.    I have used Cotman series Turquoise, Paynes Grey and purple, but any colours can be used…..

In an ideal world it’s a good idea to work on two or thee images at once.    This prevents overworking a painting. Image


Frame 3.

Using the same colours I then sketch out a rough idea of the different shaped fields.  Note that I bring the same strong dark into the bottom of the painting which helps to bring a sense of rhythm to the overall composition.    

I have also introduced some Winsor & Newton artists grade Green Gold. 



Frame 4.

I now begin to indicate the different coloured fields….using Gold Green and Cadmium yellow.   Note where the colour bleeds, I allow it to do its own thing.      

So much of watercolour painting is about letting go and giving up control, something which is not easy for we human beings:)



Frame 5. 

In the final frame I have added some cadmium orange and generally moved colour around the image to give a sense of balance and harmony.   Also note that I left some white paper on the horizon line which helps to give contrast and drama. 


You can play with this concept on newspaper or inexpensive wall paper lining if you wish….and again any colours can be used.   Have fun and let the paint flow. 

These words from Andy Warhol say it all…..



For my friends in the States….I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving celebration…and for everyone, happy painting. 

A Bientôt