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Autumn colour

How to create depth in a watercolour painting of autumn woodland, with Paula Henchell

Watercolour

LEARNING OBJECTIVES

Practise a layering approach to create perspective

Mix autumn colours

Paint water and reflections

All artists face the problem of creating a three-dimensional painting on a two-dimensional surface, so I’m here today to explain a way of solving the problem. First of all, as objects, mountains or hills recede into the background they become smaller and paler in colour, but not necessarily blue. Whatever colours you’ve used in a scene, just de-saturate them and make them more neutral. Overlapping is another method of creating depth. The overlapped object appears to be more in the distance.

Create as many layers as possible in your painting to create more depth. Most paintings should have a foreground, middle ground and a background, plus the sky. The sky is not considered the background layer.

When I photograph my scenes I usually do so with the idea that I will be painting them so I try to set up a scene with a focal point in mind. The first decision to make is the format of the painting. I usually make several thumbnail sketches to work out the composition and to see if I can simplify the painting by leaving out a lot of unnecessary detail. At this time I also decide on the level of the horizon line, which you can decide from doing several thumbnail sketches with different horizon levels. For the demonstration painting over the page I decided on a horizon line just above centre so there is more going on below the horizon line than above it.

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About Leisure Painter

Time to take out your brushes and colours as you peruse the November issue of Leisure Painter. This month, build your confidence and skill set with new ideas from acrylic painters, Brendan Smith and Helen Elliott. For the watercolourists, there are demonstrations and practical advice for painting flowers, autumn landscapes, trees, animals, buildings and street scenes. Oil painter, Martin Kinnear covers 'how to paint a winner' with advice on how to see and think like a professional artist, while Elena Parashko demonstrates the painting of tulips in the same medium. Tony Paul continues his look at successful composition ideas, Tim Fisher (who completes his seven-part line & colour series this month) also reports on new sketching sets by Caran d'Ache, and there's even an article on how to paint a halloween-inspired cartoon. Enjoy another month of painting with the UK's best-selling learn to paint magazine.