In part 1, we talked a bit smaller scale than what we’ll do today; for teaching sometimes small swatching exercises work great to get an idea across. But I find my best learning happens when painting in context, not swatches — otherwise I have to keep going back to books and books of swatches and never really ‘learn’ the idea. So today – let’s create a whole painting in which we employ the warm and cool idea we talked about last time. This might be watercolor but much applies to other art supplies too!


Watch the video below or click here to see it on YouTube.

I didn’t take time to discuss the paper in the video – I thought some folks might be interested in the cold press “block” I painted on. Different companies make them slightly differently, but the Arches Watercolor Blocks come in lots of sizes and types of watercolor surface – and they’re glued together all the way around til one spot (below), which is where you can lift up the top sheet and break it away from the rest of the block. Blocks keep paper flat without tape – but beware, they’re much more expensive. I often take them when going on trips, so I don’t need to carry tape and boards – just blocks!

The steps I took for this painting:

  1. The sky: Cobalt Blue and Phthalo Blue Turquoise . I had a little green in the PBT, apparently so my sky has a wee flavor of green. ha.
  2. Tree line: Painting around the houses, I started with Cascade Green – a cool green – and added in a warm green, Green Gold .
  3. Grasses were also in the Green Gold , and doing the reverse by dropping in a little of the Cascade mix.
  4. While still wet, I painted the buildings with a little Transparent Red Oxide – letting the greens merge in with it, and letting the TRO move out into the trees. This creates harmony in the two areas – plus it keeps from having that hard line that appears when trying to “kiss” two watercolor edges. I later painted some of the green over the TRO – to be sure it all disappeared more into its surroundings.
  5. It’s always a hard choice to decide when to stop, dry, and begin a new layer on dry paper; I chose to paint the tallest trees first so the bottoms of them would merge into the still-wet tree line.
  6. Then dry it!
  7. Final details can be added in the last pass – some darker trees around the houses (don’t paint a line around the house or it looks like a sticker!) and any trees, fences, foreground grasses, etc.


In case you missed the rest of warm-cool-greens week, here’s what got posted on the socials:


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