For me, creating a watercolor painting takes several steps, and planning in advance of the actually painting. Painting is the fun part, but one needs to plan with watercolors, for the best results. In the beginning of the process, I’m thinking about possible subjects that I’d like to paint, and finding reference photographs to help me develop my composition. I’m also thinking about the colors I’d like to use in my painting to convey the right mood, and color harmony.
Below are the stages of my painting, “Autumn Woods” watercolor on paper 16″ x 12″.
I started this painting by completing a line drawing, and then did a value study, so I’d know where I wanted my lights and darks. I drew soft pencil lines onto my watercolor paper, before starting to paint. Then I did a light under painting to establish some shadows. Next, I masked off some areas in the foreground that I wanted to keep white. Then, I began painting with watercolors. When I was satisfied with the background, and areas around the masked trees, I remove the mask and painted the birch trees. The “final details” took several days of studying the painting, making adjustments, repeat until satisfied.