Monochrome Painting Demonstration
You only need one colour to paint a
picture. This is especially true in watercolour painting. With
the simple addition of varying amounts of water, a single pigment can produce a
near infinite number of hues.
Painting in monochrome demonstrates the
importance of tones (the level of darkness of a colour) and can
significantly simplify the painting process by eliminating the
often complicated process of choosing and mixing colours.
For this example a chose a simple landscape
of trees and hills. I enjoy painting winter landscapes and think that character full winter trees with their
tangled branches and interesting shapes make great painting
1. Paper and Paint
I started this picture with a light pencil
drawing on Saunders Waterford 200lb paper. As this is a small
picture (21cm by 15cm) I could have just as well used 140lb
paper but I have a growing stack of 200lb off-cuts that should
For this picture I chose the colour Burnt Umber which
gives you a wonderful coffee stain tone.
2. The Sky
When I start a landscape painting I usually work from top to
bottom (In this case that means starting with the sky) and from
lighter tones to darker ones. The sky
and clouds in particular can be important in setting the mood of
a painting as well as directing the eye to or framing the
subject of your picture. I dampened the upper half of the paper
with a wash brush and then roughly suggested the cloud shapes.
While the cloud wash was still wet I gave a hard edge to some of
the clouds by gently lifting some of the pigment with a tissue.
When the sky was dry I painted the background hills over the
lower cloud formation using the sable # 6 brush and for
added interest I suggested a few rocky formations with the same
I Kept the background trees faint and in
the distance by minimising detail and using my lightest wash of
burnt umber. I painted these trees using a #0 rigger (long thin
brush). The indistinct upper branch formations were painted using the brush side on
and the trunks were added using the fine point of the rigger.
The focal point, the foreground tree was
described in the most detail with the fine rigger using the
strongest dilution of Burnt umber. The increased strength of
colour in the foreground tree and bush helps to push the
indistinct tree clusters further back and accentuates the
feeling of distance. I kept the foreground simple with a few
broad washes applied with my #6 round sable brush. The
meandering path helps draw the viewer in and also helps to
All images on this site are copyright . Feel free
to copy and use these demonstration pictures for your own