Watercolor Painting Process of Zabriskie Point

Hello everyone and welcome! My name is Noelle, and in this video, I’ll be painting a watercolor landscape of Zabriskie Point. I began this process with a pencil sketch outlining the largest shapes and, using a kneaded eraser, I lightened the lines so that they don’t show as much after I paint over them. I decided to try out a brand of tape for the first time; I practiced with it a couple weeks ago so I knew what to expect before using it on a finished piece. The tape did leave paint where they overlapped, but I think that was a goof on my part and I just need to be more careful. To paint the first layer of the sky, I wet the surface with clear water and began applying my paint. In my reference photo, the portion of the sky closest to the horizon was more muted, so I applied a muddier color near the horizon and blended that in with the blue sky. But, before the paper dried, I took a clean brush and lifted some of the paint off for distinct clouds. The first layer of the landscape is acting as a base for the rest of the layers to come. In the foreground, I wanted the rocks to appear more vibrant and the background to be duller in comparison, due to the haze. That way, the rocks furthest from the viewer will appear further away and create distance. To make sure the colors and textures were right, I added a second layer of paint once the first layer was completely dry. After that, I began the process of painting the details. I tried my best not to bore you with too much repetition during the section of the process, but just so that we’re clear, this took me a very long time I’m still a newbie when it comes to painting rocks like this; I have painted southwestern landscapes probably no more than three times, but the rockery is very fascinating to me and a pleasure to depict in a painting. My painting process tends to be very detail-oriented and close to my reference photos, and often, I will seek out images that don’t have a lot of details so I can paint them faster. For this painting, however, I wanted to challenge myself to see what I can do and where I need to improve. One of the things I learned was that I should have used a smaller brush. I started the details with a size-12 Silver Black Velvet brush, and though it has a fine point, it held too much water and created pools where I didn’t want them. My size 8 was good for larger details, but ideally, I should use a size 4 or a script brush for the smallest details. I don’t believe my painting suffered greatly from this, but I believe it would have made an improvement. One of the advantages of using cotton paper is how it absorbs the paint. Cotton paper makes it easier for me to add layers of paint without lifting the layers underneath as much though this is dependent on the specific paper and paint pigments used. With cellulose paper, this is more difficult Had I used cellulose paper, I would have approached this piece differently. Several times throughout this painting, I felt insecure in the direction I was heading. I had to remind myself several times that I needed to trust the process and stick to the plan in my head. During this phase of my process, I painted the shadows a dark blue color. I was hoping for the shadows to appear more blueish, however, it doesn’t make sense to expect that when I’m painting on top of the color orange, its complement. If I really wanted to make it blue, I could have left that area blank and painted over it later, or paint it over it with an opaque medium like gouache. For the shadows in the background, I used a different paint mixture that was more purple and blue. I was thinking about making a video like my watercolor cloud study where I will study different types of shadows because I could use some practice painting shadows in different environments. I decided to add another layer of paint for the sky because I wasn’t fully satisfied with the sky I created initially. To make this process easier, I thought masking the horizon would be helpful. After tracing the horizon line on a piece of tape, I made cutouts and adjustments until it matched the horizon. This process was quite tedious, but it worked very effectively. With the tape, I didn’t have to worry about getting unwanted paint on the land so I can focus on making a smooth, sky gradient, which I struggled with earlier. I didn’t need the tape, but it was helpful. Before I let the paper dry, I lifted some paint off of the paper for the clouds, as I did earlier. Then, I peeled the tape off and dabbed off excess paint that bled. I’m not sure how the paint got there, whether it’s the tape’s fault for bleeding, or my fault for peeling it off before I let the paper dry. For the moon, I grabbed my permanent white gouache by Holbein and began painting inside a circle I drew with pencil I completely ignored. I mostly just played around with the moon to make it look right and eventually erased the pencil The distant clouds are not too special, they are just a few straight streaks of a greyish purple. I had to make sure that I didn’t go too overboard with the clouds and keep it simple. If I were to attempt this painting again, I would use smaller brushes for detail work, find a method to add more blues to the shadows, and probably make the sky slightly greener near the horizon. If you want to know what brands of art supplies I’m using you can find them in the description below. If you have any specific questions about any part of this process, feel free to let me know in the comments and I will do my best to reply. For art supplies I use and recommend to others you can visit my Amazon Storefront link below, where I’ll receive a commission from items purchased following the link. I hope you enjoyed watching this process. if you did, consider giving me a thumbs up or subscribing to my channel. You can find me on my social media, I am the most active on my Instagram. Thank you so much for watching, and make it a great day!


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