A Monochrome Landscape in Watercolour

The reason why I have chosen a one colour landscape to try is that you don't need to think about colour mixing and therefore allows you concentrate on painting what in artistic terms is called a monochrome picture which really means to use of lighter and darker shades of the one colour Secondly I have chosen to use 10 x 7 inch paper which is half the size I normally use for my lessons.I would encourage you use my 3/4 inch Magic Brush as it is especially designed for use with my painting system. I also suggest that you paint this lesson 3 or 4 times as it is the best exercise to get you started painting watercolour landscapes.

A Monochrome Landscape in Watercolour

Remember... You can already paint!




Brushes & Paint
•Tube of burnt umber paint
•¾” Simply Painting goathair brush
•Simply Painting rigger
Other Gear
•7″ x 10″ (18.5cm x 25.5cm) Sheet 140 lb (300 gms) watercolour paper
•Stiff board to affix your paper to
•Water container
•Old Cloths
•White plate to use as palette
•Masking tape

"You can use any materials but I would recommend using the Simply Painting materials."
Frank Clarke

Finished Image preview


Step 01

Take your sheet of paper and place it longways on your board. Then affix it on the four corners with some kind of tape. When you have this done raise the board about 2″ at the back and place something under it, an ashtray upturned or something of that nature will be fine.

Step 02

First take your ruler and your pencil and approximately 25% of the way up from the bottom of the paper draw a straight line making sure it is equidistant from the bottom on each side of the paper. This is your horizon line.

Step 03

Now take your small or 3/4″ goathair brush and dip it into your jar or water container. Using clear water, wet the paper starting from the top, making broad strokes in exactly the same way as you would paint a door right down to within 1″ of the horizon line.

Step 04

Now quickly dip your brush into your burnt umber paint,making a not too strong mixture. Then starting from the top, paint down wards .After you have come down a couple of inches leave a little gap and carry on again right down to within 1″ of the horizon line.

Step 06

. Taking a stronger mixture paint in the sky, Starting at the top. paint half way down

Step 07

It is now time to dry your sky and if you want you can use a hairdryer just like I do. It is not essential but if you have one it is very handy as if speed up the picture painting because the first commandment of watercolour painting, and I call it that, is that the sky must be dry before you proceed with the next stage of the painting.

Step 08

Now that the sky is completely ,using the same mixture that you used for the top of the sky paint the letter M as I call it for the mountains . Be careful not to go down to the horizon.

Step 09

Now just fill in the bottom of the mountains, making sure that you leave a gap of approximately 1/2″ across between the bottom of the mountains and the horizon line. Do not go down as far as the horizon line as you will need that gap in a moment for the middleground.

Step 10

That completes the Mountains

Step 11

We are now ready to start painting the middleground. Take the brush once more and back into your paint, making sure, of course, that the mountains are completely dry before you start to paint the middleground.
You will notice that we paint over the bottom of the mountain, in other words you don’t have to go underneath the mountains just go up a little bit on the mountain itself and you will notice that the paint is darker. What is happening is that you are picking up the darker colour underneath and therefore doubling the density of the paint that you are using.

Step 12

Now carry on with the brush held like a chisel go straight across from one side of your painting to the other. Now go underneath the mountains with the same paint that you used go up onto the mountains. It will be a lot lighter .Paint right across from either left to right or right to left, it doesn’t matter. As I am left-handed I start from the right side you may prefer to start from the left-hand side and this is okay. Leaving some of the area unpainted-iIn other words don’t paint the whole lot across leave little gaps this is called texture. Do this right down to the horizon line.

Step 13

Dry your brush just a little and take some darke mixture, in other words you use less water  and just go along the edge of the lake with dabs of darker burnt umber

Step 14

You have now completed the horizon, the sky and the middleground. So the next section of the painting we need to do is the foreground and in this case we are going to put some water in. Go back into your paint again and make up a nice watery mixture of burnt umber. Then pressing the brush flat on the paper. Once again if you are right handed you start from the left-hand side and if you are left-handed you start from the right hand side. Then drag the brush straight across the full width of the paper in one complete stroke without stopping.

Step 15

Now repeat the action right down to the bottom of the paper. Always remembering to complete the stroke without stopping over the full width of the paper.

Step 16

Once more let your paper dry. Now dry the brush just a little and make up a darker mixture of the burnt umber. When I say a darker mixture, this is done by using less water and more paint. In the same way as you painted the middleground go right across the page leaving pieces of paint behind you, would be the way I would describe it, form the near side of the lake

Step 17

Now continue to build up the foreground with this darker colour.

Step 18

Take the brush and dry it well and then dip it into the darkest paint you have left on your palette and with downward strokes, from top to bottom, start to create the impression of reeds or rushes on the near side river bank.

Step 19

That completes the reeds.

Step 20

We are now nearing the completion of our first masterpiece and using a pen or a biro you can draw in my pal, Joe, the bird, if you want. Don’t forget to sign it. Well done


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Robyn Watkins commented on 14-Sep-2010 03:22 PM5 out of 5 stars
Not enough can be said very very helpful - thank you
maggie commented on 29-Sep-2010 10:20 AM3 out of 5 stars
very good the best
addou rabea commented on 28-Nov-2010 05:51 AM3 out of 5 stars
bonjour,la technique parait simple mais il faut de la pratique , merci beaucoup.
Dr. Satyakam Kakaty commented on 03-Sep-2012 12:36 AM5 out of 5 stars
Fantastic learning experience
Anonymous commented on 09-Sep-2012 03:42 PM5 out of 5 stars
A good exercise to study the balance of lights and darks throughout the image.cy
arthur haroutunian commented on 24-Sep-2012 08:42 PM3 out of 5 stars
Have been following your tv videos for years would like to see them again let me know which channel and when...thanks so much for your time and exquisite instructions...Artzy
Rich commented on 09-Oct-2012 07:24 PM3 out of 5 stars
All looks so simple until you try it,you will be lucky if you get it right first few times but if you haven't given up, then you should eventually manage it

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