The Challenge – Watercolors

landscape fields photograph, foregrounds,

Its a challenge, yes.

But wouldn’t it be just a little bit boring without a challenge or two?!

So far in my “Master Color” course we’ve been proceeding along in segments.

It makes it easier.

While I’m purposely creating this post for my Tuesday class, “MASTER COLOR”  don’t let that stop you from joining in the fun today!!



landscape fields photograph, foregrounds,
landscape fields:  foreground – middleground – background


Watercolors – The Real Basics

We’ve found out how to read the labels and,  why that is so relevant.

(Pigment identification numbers, lightfastness ratings, series, names, brands, single pigment paints vs multiple ingredients.)


Plus, what opaques, granulators, stainers, transparents are and how you can use them to their best advantage, avoiding their liabilities!

Which ones are good social mixers and which ones, like to be the solo artists.

We also are discovering,  how the differing brands of the same paint name, can make or break a color blend on your painting.



Last Term Blues Featured

2017 started off on the Cool side, focusing on the magnificent Blues of watercolor.

Daniel Smith Indigo, cobalt pb28, the 2 types of cerulean, prussian blue pb27, ultramarine pb29,  phalo blue pb15.3 and indanthrone pb60 were the featured paints. We combined them with the lovely Daniel Smith Naples Yellow and Winsor Lemon py175.    Totally fascinating!


watercolor blues, tropical ocean colors, cerulean, cobalt, teal, color mixes,
Blues in Watercolors, (c)


Term 2  Warm Colors of the Earth

This term we’ve focused on Warms and the Earth colors.

Permanent Rose Pv19, Winsor and Newton Permanent Alizarin Crimson Pr206,  Raw Umber PBr7,  Burnt Sienna PBr7,  Light Red. Now we are integrating these with the Blues in Landscape themes.

It has been a great fun challenge so far.

Especially trying to keep in mind, Keep it Loose, Keep it Simplified. And,  Don’t get bogged down with “replication.”

ah yes…. easier said, than done.

Its a Challenge!




Weekly Watercolor Workouts

Each week, I suggest a little something for them to do at home.

Making sure they all feel free to Ad Lib.  To change the recipe to suit.


Weekly Watercolor Works  (WWW)

This week it is about depth.  About aerial perspective.

About Foregrounds.


And we will be mixing from only the colors we have from Term 1 and Term 2 to obtain the illusion of depth.

The aim is to enable the viewers to ‘walk through’ the paintings smoothly.

Not rough or bumpy, but a beautifully even and smooth,  stroll through.



It is a Challenge………  Join Us?!



I mentioned to my lovely friends that I’d share some helpful visuals on my next post and title it The Challenge.

The landscape photographs   you see here,  you are welcome to use as references for your watercolor paintings too, as part of  The Challenge. I’d appreciate it though, that my paintings, not be copied/used as reference.  Its important, as many of my images are for sale in my shops…..Thanks!


painting watercolor trees, beginners techniques,
Watercolor front is warmer



miniature watercolour impressionistic landscape
Miniature Landscape  warm to cooler



NSW blue hills watercolour landscape
Watercolour landscape, dry brush foreground


Burnt Sienna PBr7, monochrome watercolor landscape mountains, trees,
Burnt Sienna tonal value study   dark to lighter



Suggesting …. Depth and Perspective

One of the dilemmas, new artists face is how to create depth.

How to avoid that ‘flatness’  that happens so often. As it did to me, for way too long!



Is the simplest key.  But it is, The second on my list actually.

The first is, of course tonal values.    (See the Burnt Sienna landscape above)



If we make sure that the foregrounds are very warm (reds, oranges, terracottas, yellows)

and the middleground areas are less warm (greens – lime greens, grass green, blue greens)

and then the backgrounds are quite cool (grey greens, blues, pale grey lavenders)     Well!

Then we will have a lovely smooth stroll through the painting.

The painting will have depth and perspective.



HOW?  You ask.

Always, mentally divide the photo, painting, subject into sections.

Background. Middleground. Foreground.

Assign each, the ‘temperature’ of colors that is appropriate for its location.


watercolor foregrounds,
Foregrounds, mid, backgrounds



watercolour trees forest, creating depth, mixing green foliage,
Forest Depths, warm to cool watercolors



Lets say I have mixed up a lemon green for a field that is closer to the front.  Maybe it was a canola field?  Anyway,  to make the back part of that field recede like it needs to,  all I need to do is add increments of a blue to the mix and paint away.

Lets say I’ve some bushes, shrubbery that are in the foreground, middle, background…..

Something like this,  might be the way to go.

watercolor foliage green mixes, beginners watercolours landscape greens, mixing warm greens,
Landscape Greens, warm colors in Front – cooler in the Back





Some Reference photos, that I thought might be helpful are below.


landscape photo, foregrounds,
Landscape photo, challenge


landscape fields photograph, foregrounds,
landscape fields, foreground – background


pink lake, Perth WA, photograph,
Pink Lake, landscape depth foregrounds



misted tangles watercolor, photo,
Foliage Misted Tangles





What you’ll want to do is to simplify.


Mentally divide the image into the 3 sections back, mid, foreground.

Assign each area the appropriate color temperature and textural effects and tonal value.


nature photograph reference for painting,



Never try to ‘just duplicate’ a photo.   They don’t tell the truth, anyway!

Use the photos as guides.


Suggest….. the details.  There is truly no need to reveal, expose it all.


Go for a close approximation and do your best to put your own spin on things.


Its just a piece of paper.





Watercolor Basic Posts you’ll find great resources:

 Painting Depth background to foreground 

Depth background 

Backgrounds  –   are lovely things  

Mixing greens with depth 

watercolor landscapes 

watercolor tips 

Watercolor Basics

3 fast tips watercolor landscapes 





Did you know, that Maimeri Raw Umber (my favorite)  mixed with cerulean/cobalt blend  in a wet wash creates a gorgeous greeny blue.

That is so perfect for middleground hills, with the slight granulation ….. suggesting, shrubbery!

It is, Delightful to experiment with these colors we have added to our palettes so far.


It is a Wonderful Watercolor Challenge. Yes.




Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at and,

16 thoughts on “The Challenge – Watercolors

    1. hi Victoria J! glad it is useful 🙂 hoping you have a good weekend. restful, pleasant, enjoyable! see you at class…. hopefully!! cheers, Debi


    1. yes, it was….. a long post! and yes, it was a challenge for all! 🙂 thank you Margaret – now its time to finally, breathe and go see your stuff! YRF

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I do like your information Debi, one day I want to give watercolors a go and I know where to get the best instruction! I’m really attracted to the Burnt Sienna tonal study – wonderful use of value treatment w/o over doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Mary! this was a case of (had to do this specific post, for my art class… they needed some extra info) and so, there we go! LOL glad you liked it 🙂 cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

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