Category Archives: How Do I Begin a Plein Air Aspen Watercolor?

Step By Step Plein Air Watercolor

STEP !: After taping my 140 pound Arches paper to a gator board (lightweight for plein air painting), I lightly sketch out the aspen scene and put some first light washes of yellows for the lightest yellow foliage. Then I use the three primaries, red, yellow, and blue, to mix a nice gray for the aspens. I leave the left side of the aspens white paper because the light is coming from the left. Sorry about the sunspots on this one!
STEP 2: I add a light blue sky, some greens and soft purples (mixed out of alizarin crimson and ultramarine blue) and red-violets (same mixture with more alizarin) which will be an indication of wildflowers. I paint around some branches to leave some whites where they will go. Some of the colors I’ve added have merged with others; some haven’t. That’s the way I want it!
Here is the same picture showing the subject, the beautiful aspens. You can see that I’ve chosen not to make the small aspens on the left in my painting as much of a strong V as in the “real thing,” because that would be very distracting to the rest. I’ve also put darker values behind it so that it wouldn’t stand out so much as the light sky makes it.

STEP 3: I needed to add some darker values to “see where I am” as far as values, so I mixed my favorite black, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna (Winsor Newton brand) and added it for the markings on the aspens. also added a little burnt sienna to the main tree to warm it up, and pt in the tree behind it in a bluer gray to show it was behind. I put a light wash of the same colors on the ground as I used in the background to start with, painting around the little log on the left.
I add some slightly darker foliage behind the main aspen.
STEP 4: FINISH I do as little as possible to finish “Falling for Fall,” 15 x 11 Watercolor, so that it won’t lose its freshness and immediacy. I added a little detail in the black markings, some dry brushing also, to darken some of the blacks, especially on the shadow side, The color is much truer on this finished painting than on the others because I’ve scanned it in my scanner instead of taking pictures in the shade with my camera.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my post, and I appreciate your tuning in during this busy holiday season! Any questions? Email me! cecy@cecycecyturner-com
Have a Merry Christmas!