Tag Archives: spring watercolor

Oh the Blessings of Spring Sketch

spring birdhouse watercolor sketch

The redbuds flaunt above,
While the bluebells boast below.
As if a competition, a race to allure the viewer…
I the observer, I reap the benefits.
Standing in awe, with nothing to match,
I am swiftly humbled.
C. Kane

Today, I had the opportunity to visit Sagawau Environmental Learning Center, formerly known as Camp Sagawau. What a dramatic scenery taking place as we speak in the forest preserves right now. At this spot, a birdhouse hangs from a branch on a wire, in the midst of a splendid spring display.  It stopped me in my tracks.

Is this scene the definition of spring? I do think so.

Demonstrating climax throughout the year, it is but two brief seasons: spring and autumn. I will not take for granted the mysteries displayed, but will soak in all that surrounds me and trap that memory for all of my existence.

Let’s Paint a Spring Trail!

This is going to be a step-by-step demonstration on how to do a watercolor sketch.

Sketches are quicker and looser than paintings. It’s great to make a sketch when you just want to get the main idea down without a ton of detail. You can easily take your watercolor journal and watercolor paints on the trail with you while hiking. This sketch however, I did at home from a photo:

Here is my reference photo. What a beautiful spring day we have here, after a very long winter it is eagerly welcomed.

Step 1: I taped my cold press watercolor paper down and made a drawing with a #2 pencil.

Step 2: I always like to start at the top and work my way down. For the sky, I used manganese blue. For the purple trees I used permanent rose and a yellow-green for highlights on the green trees. They started to mix and melt together and I don’t care. I really like this actually because when you look into the far distance colors do blend together! This is an example of being “loose” with your sketch.

Step 3: Next, while everything was still wet I painted some green trees with sap green watercolor paint.

Step 4: When things start to dry paint more trees with sap and the field. There were a few patches of a red/brown color in the field, I used country brick and just made splotches. Remember, this is just a sketch…I’m not looking to be exact.

Step 5: For the trail, paint the inside with Naples yellow, but paint the outside of the trail burnt sienna. Leave a lot of white space to represent bright light and leave a little breathing room. When a watercolor painting has no white space, it feels “heavy” and dull.

Step 6: In this step paint the fence with a mixture of raw umber and indigo blue. The lightest part should face the sun, a more concentrated mixture with less water can be painted for the shadows. I also used raw umber for the trees and twigs in the mid-ground of the painting. 

This is a close up of the two little girls that were on the trail. I am guessing they were sisters. The taller one grabbed the hand of the smaller one and made sure she hung on tight. It was very cute.
I used a very small rigger brush for the figures. In my original reference photo, the girls had blond hair, but with the amount of yellow I already painted in my sketch I felt brunettes would be better. Remember you are the artist, you have an artistic license and you can make changes if you like.

Step 7 Final: Here is the final piece. I added darker shades to the purple trees and green trees by adding a little indigo blue to my original paint colors. This day was very sunny and because of that many tree shadows fell across the trail. For the shadows I mixed blue and crimson and a touch of raw umber.

“Sisters on a Spring Trail”
8×8
watercolor

After a long winter, I was very happy to capture this spring moment in a watercolor sketch.