Wow, what a title for this post! For a tongue twister, quickly repeat "winter woodland watercolor tutorial" 10 times in a row. But it's really the best way to describe these beautiful and unique little watercolor scenes.
These simple landscapes are super fun to do and surprisingly easy once you get the hang of the technique, so I thought I would share a video tutorial on how to paint them. I hope this helps you create your own unique, winter woodland scene.
When I started posting these woodland scenes on social media, so many people commented that they could not paint these in 10 minutes. Ten minutes does not count prep (sketching, masking) and drying time but refers to active painting time—though I probably spend less than 10 minutes actively painting each one.
Overall, these woodland scenes probably take about 20 to 30-minutes from start to finish. That’s still not a lot of time, so if each one takes you twice as long, don’t fret! It’s not about the time spent but about the joy in the process.
Painting quickly and efficiently comes with experience, but the painting technique used with these landscapes is a great way to practice. Not only is this technique wonderful for learning to be more loose and spontaneous with watercolor, but it can also a great warm-up exercise before tackling a larger landscape or painting.
Tips for 10-Minute Landscapes
Keep it small.
Think of these 10-minute landscapes as vignettes. All of the examples that I show in this post are about the size of a postcard. This small size allows me to paint quickly and freely without worrying if I make a mistake. After all, there's not of time and emotion invested in a 4x6-inch painting.
Keep it simple.
Any elements requiring details should be kept to a minimum. Two to three foreground trees, a couple of fence posts, a few grasses or a scattering of snow are all the details needed to set the foreground scene, so don’t overdo it.
Work in multiples.
It's not a bad idea to paint two or three of these vignettes at the same time. While waiting on one to dry, feel free to begin another. It's not about being productive. Instead, this helps lift performance pressure—if the paint doesn’t do what you want in one, simply move onto another. Also, working on another painting helps distract an impatient artist (like me) from going back into a painting too early and mucking it up.
You don't need much to create these mini landscapes, but this is one project where a few, key ingredients can really make a difference. Because you'll be working very quickly wet-in-wet, you'll need supplies that can hold up under pressure. Here's what I recommend.
[Links in the supply list go to products used in the tutorial; contains affiliates.]
Really good paper.
This technique requires a paper that can handle a lot of water, so student-grade or budget watercolor papers will rarely cut it. Also, a relatively hard-sized paper works best. I prefer 140# cold-pressed. Papers are personal, but I’ve used Hahnemuhle Cezanne, Stonehenge Aqua, and Saunder’s Waterford with excellent results and even budget-friendly Strathmore Windpower with success. I didn't have much luck using heavy-weight papers or Arches, Kilimanjaro, or Fabriano.
Mostly transparent, single-pigment watercolors.
The only place I would use opaque pigments, if at all, are in the foreground elements. Avoid opaque and multi-pigment watercolors in the background wash. These can easily become muddy when mixing wet-in-wet. Also, opaques tend to have a limited flow rate on the page, and you’ll need good dispersement for this technique. For example, Phthalos, Quins, and Perylenes are mostly transparent and have great flow. You can see my current palette here.
Video: Winter Woodland Watercolor Tutorial
If you use my video tutorial to paint your own 10-minute winter woodland scene, I would love to hear how it went! Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and if you can, attach a photo of your final result.
If you’re interested in purchasing one of these winter woodland landscapes, several are currently available in my shop. Also, seeing portions of the painting completed in the tutorial may help you understand how beautifully the layers come together as a whole.
Yep, watercolor is amazing so happy painting!