Let’s Paint Autumn Trees in Cold Rain!

This next step-by-step watercolor painting is completely made up. I have been under the weather for several days now, a week actually, and I just was not healthy enough to get outside. While I may be sick, I’m never too sick to pick up a paint brush…he, he, he…

I did this painting last week when here in Chicago it was cold and rainy for several days. I actually like that kind of weather because there is a stronger contrast between the bright autumn leaves on the trees and the dark mean sky. So brilliant!

There is no reference photo for this one, I think I had an older painting in mind, Day Lit Moon, when I was doing this, I can see the similarities.

Step 1: On hot press watercolor paper I made a rough sketch of three trees in a field. I applied masking fluid to cover the trees so that I can work on the background. Because I am making this up, there are two things I want to make sure I do: #1 Make the trees different heights to look more realistic and #2 When applying masking fluid, leave some holes of open paper so the sky can show through. Nobody will guess we made it up!

Step 2: Let’s paint that mean sky! Yes! I used three colors: indigo blue, alizarin crimson, and perm. sap green. I did not wet my background first, I just laid on the paint.

Step 3: While the background was still wet but not shiny, I used my same mixture plus a tiny bit of sepia to make a zig-zag pattern in the sky for some serious cold and saturated clouds. Then mixing some more crimson in my mixture I painted the distant trees.

Step 4: Paint the field sap green with a touch of raw umber. While wet, make a few more distant trees and scrape out branches with something sharp. You have to scrape while wet or it will not work.

Step 5: When completely dry, remove the masking fluid. Paint the left side of the trees winsor yellow(or any yellow you like) and while wet, paint the right side a mixture of yellow and burnt sienna. Let them come together. Easy.

Step 6: When your trees are dry, paint a few leaves. I painted some cad. orange leaves and crimson leaves. Don’t forget the ones on the ground, you can even have fun by painting one leaf actually falling from the tree in mid air. Next, I painted the trunks and made a few exposed twigs with sepia and indigo blue. I did not use a micron pen with this painting.

Step 7 Final: I did not paint in this step but discovered something important. I took a pre-cut mat and realized that I like the view to the right of the trees much better than the view left of the trees. The sky has more of a story to tell with the layering of clouds, and the field has greater distance than before. I found this out by just moving the field of view around, it looks completely different now and I like it.

“Autumn Cold Rain”
image: 6.5×4.5
off white mat outside dimensions: 10×8

I hope you enjoyed this made up watercolor painting of autumn trees in cold rain. Please find time to enjoy autumn while it is briefly here.


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