A quick watercolor lesson: wolf moon painting.

I thought it would be fun to show you the anatomy of a simple painting. Watercolor is much easier if you know the basics. IMG_0927

1. treat yourself to some quality paints and paper. You want some nice thick paper that absorbs well, and paints that have a lot of pigment. Generally, you get what you pay for.

2. tape your paper down to your work surface with painters tape so it doesn’t ruffle and warp. I use watercolor paper blocks (all the sheets are stuck together on their edges) so you can’t see any tape in my pictures.

3. watercolor is creating a scene backwards. Start with light and end with dark. In this painting we are starting with the lightest part: the moon. The moon will be white so you leave it. IMG_0888

4. To create a sky, begin with a wash. paint over the whole surface, except for you LIGHT (the moon) with water. IMG_0891

5. To create clouds, you leave them white, and paint sky around them. Take light purple (watery purple) and paint the sky in streaks. The paint will spread in the water, and the absence of color will look like clouds.


6. Without letting the wet dry, add some shadow with some darker blue (less watery blue). Shadow is always on the opposite side of where the light source is: The clouds below the moon will have shadow below them. The clouds above will have shadow above them.IMG_0895

7. Use a blow dryer to dry your painting.

8. Now you can paint the foreground with black. To make black mix red and green.IMG_0904

9. To make your black dark, add very little water to your paint. (more water: light, less water: dark) Use the black to create a silhouette of trees. (I’m making a wolf, too, but if it’s too difficult make a house or something else)IMG_0900

10. To create a misty effect, add water to the bottom of the black. It’s really fun to experiment with this. You can paint a wash with color (instead of just water) and add big drops of water to it or streaks of water. (another way to create clouds)IMG_0902

11. I felt like the painting needed more trees, So I added them to the scene where it seemed to need it. (If you want to get technical, this is a good example of the rule of threes. See how I made a “triangle” with the tree patches and the wolf? And used three trees in the tree patches?) IMG_0903

12. And then it needed something a little more Bridgety. So I added stars.IMG_0927

The end!

I hope this was helpful. If it was, let me know and I can do more little tutorials like this!

10 thoughts on “A quick watercolor lesson: wolf moon painting.

  1. I use a tiny Van Gogh paint set and buy tubes from Daniel Smith. I love aqvarelle arches paper. Daniel Smith has a website. And Amazon.com, your local art store, or Daniel Smith has a huge whole sale art supply store in the sodo district of Seattle.

  2. I’ve been using Princeton art and brush co. recently. You want brushes with really good pointy tips. Technically you can use one brush for a simple painting if it’s thick at the base and pointy at the tip. That way you just paint very lightly to create fine lines instead of switching brushes. But everyone has their own preference. You might want to use different kinds for different parts of your painting. I suggest getting a set and playing around.

  3. LOOOOOVE this! I almost feel like I could pain with watercolors…
    oh, Bridget, you are so generous and so talented. Just delighted to have been ‘following’ you and enamored with you for the last couple years or so…

  4. Thanks for all the tips and advice. I am excited to try this. I am an okay artist and am curious to see how well I can paint. I want to try doing some artwork with my kids over the summer. :-)

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