I don't do too many traditional watercolors. I find they take patience and planning - and I'm usually not patient enough to plan. But here is one.
I worked from a photo I took of somewhere in Nebraska while on a trip to Colorado with my daughters and dogs. I thought the scene was beautiful and peaceful, but not quite outstanding enough to paint – so, I decided to change it only slightly to make it a little more interesting.
To make the wash for the sky I mixed up cobalt blue with ultramarine blue. I wet the paper where I wanted the sky. Then painted in the blue left to right, moving down and using slightly less paint – with a wide, flat brush. While the paint was still wet I dabbed on a piece of Kleenex to look like clouds. I painted the hills in the far background using a lot of water for a fuzzy, far-away look with cadmium yellow, violet, and dabs of cadmium yellow and a deeper green (mixed by adding cadmium red to viridian green). I then mixed beige for the ground with cadmium yellow, cadmium red, and violet. Wetting paper first (leaving a space for the stream) I swept it in horizontal strokes working fast to make a smooth wash. When it was dry I took the deeper green with a pointed brush and made short vertical strokes to look like trees far away.
I made more greens by mixing viridian with cadmium yellow and red in different amount using different amounts of water. I painted in more trees. Some looking more like fir trees skinnier at the top and wider at the bottom. I left the far right side of the paper more empty because trees in the foreground will block out most of that area. The water is viridian green, cobalt blue, and ultramarine blue. I laid it in horizontally with some brushstrokes showing to show movement. The water further away has more color and less water because water sometimes looks darker the further it is. Also, some of the darker shapes can be reflections of the trees.
Take a damp Kleenex and blot out 3 small spaces for bushes in left foreground. Paint in foreground bushes and trees using a wet-on-dry technique. This will show details in focus. Mix brown with viridian green and a bit of cadmium red and paint in trunks of trees on right. Put in shadows going one direction in same color, but more water. Paint in weed like plants in left foreground with pointed brush in upward strokes using an almost dry brush approach.
Use ‘funny brush’ (a small bunch of rubberbands cut and bound together) to dot on leaves of trees starting with yellow, then light green, then dark green. Stroke funny brush upwards for more greens in left foreground. Mix pine color using ultramarine and cadmium yellow. Start at bottom of tree, with brown add shadow. Then make branches in short diagonal strokes making the strokes aim upwards the farther up the tree you get. Use a little water to drag out highlights on branches. Add a little brown here and there. Finish by adding darker pine color to weeds in left foreground and far away pine trees to give balance to painting.