'During the 60 or more years I’ve been painting in watercolour my approach has come down to this: I take a broad view of a scene and balance it in my mind before putting brush to paper. I move objects around and remove others to make a pleasing design. I keep the overall tonal values simple, and I work fast and loose,' says Alan Owen.

'Landscape painting can be easy provided you get the colours and recession right. And don’t make our British hills and mountains too pointed; they’re usually round. Try using a large, well-filled brush – and let the viewer fill in the places you leave for their imagination'.

Step 1

The drawing can be simple, with very little detail.

The important thing is to make the placing and shapes in the painting into a pleasing composition for the eye, even if it means moving objects about a little.

Remember, we’re going to paint a loose watercolour and we can re-arrange the elements to suit ourselves.

Step 2

1. Wash over the sky with a mix of cobalt blue and light red.

2. Add the mountain with a mix of ultramarine and light red. Add a little more light red to make a weaker mix for the smaller mountain.

3. Then, paint the trees and the hedgerows with raw sienna.

4. Mix a thin wash of burnt umber for the roadway.

Step 3

1. Add a mix of burnt umber and just a touch of burnt sienna to paint the darks in the left-hand side of the trees.

2. To this mix add more burnt umber with a little ultramarine to darken, and touch it under the hedgerow where it meets the grass verge.

3. At this point, I added the fence posts to give a little more interest.

Step 4

1. Introduce more depth and tonal values by adding the trees in the background. For a subtle green, use a little cadmium yellow and ultramarine and tone it down with a touch of burnt umber.

2. Stroke in a little raw sienna to the sunlit side of the tree (the light in this painting is coming from the right).

3. Paint the grass verges with the same muted green, to keep the overall tonal values the same.

Step 5

Now add the final bits to pull the painting together.

1. Add a touch of burnt sienna and burnt umber to the tree branches, then a delicate cloud wash across the road.

2. Paint the tree shadow falling across the road with a mix of burnt umber and ultramarine, and don’t forget to add the lines in the road.

3. Use the same green mix (ultramarine and cadmium yellow plus a touch of burnt umber) for your leaves, just swatting them in with dry-brush work, holding the brush side on to your paper.

The finished painting

The Country Lane, watercolour, 11x15in. (28x38cm)

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Alan Owen
Alan attended art school in the 1950s for five years, and is now retired from teaching. In his working life, including military service, he was a sign-writer painter. He has been painting watercolours for more than 60 years.


This demonstration by Alan Owen is taken from the February 2014 issue of Leisure Painter