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Forests Watercolour Tutorial

Updated: Aug 25, 2023

Techniques: wax resist, cling film, sponge, lifting off


I am feeling really excited about this new watercolour workshop next Thursday for two reasons:

  1. It's the first one I've in my lovely studio at Nunnington Studios in North Yorkshire

  2. It's the first forests one I've done.

This workshop is now full, but I will be running it again in the Autumn - so keep an eye on my website for new dates, or better still, subscribe on my website so you will always be the first to hear of new workshops and to see new work.


In this blog, I'm going to talk about the processes in the first painting below.


Watercolour Forest Painting Tutorial


Equipment needed to complete this painting:


  • cold pressed watercolour paper 300 gsm, eg The Langton

  • Cotman watercolour tubes: cadmium yellow light, viridian green, dioxazine purple, indigo,

  • Rigger no 3 brush, round no 12 brush

  • cling film, wax candle


It starts with a quick sketch of where you want your trees and branches to go, then use a white wax candle over the trunks. Using wax resist is really fun and a great way to keep the white paper - the wax will resist the watercolour paint and stay white with some speckles of colour.


Next wet the paper (at least 300gsm weight) and create an overall light wash of yellow, such as cadmium yellow light watercolour tube. Lightly wash in the far trunks using a light mix of indigo. Add a darker wash for the foreground/ forest floor, using indigo, viridian and a touch of dioxazine purple. Cover with cling film to create texture. Now create the foliage, using a washing up sponge with yellow, viridian and indigo. Add some darker shading on the tree trunks using indigo and the rigger brush. Once dry, remove the cling film and, using a clean and just damp brush, swipe diagonally across to create the light through the trees.


watercolour tutorial using wax resist, cling film
Forest painting, using wax resist, cling film and lifting off



This is the second painting we will do, which uses ferns and cotton under the cling film to create the lovely textures.

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