TUTORIAL: How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape With Only One Color

How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape

In this detailed step by step tutorial, I’m going to show you how to paint an atmospheric landscape with only one color in watercolor and still create a mesmerizing effect. This tutorial is a first introduction to a free watercolor masterclass video where I film in real time my process for this painting and I also explain the biggest mistakes to avoid. Meanwhile, here is the detailed step by step tutorial for this atmospheric monochromatic painting.

Painting with only one color can be a little bit counterintuitive at first as you cannot play with colors. However this kind of practice will force you to focus mainly on value and composition.
And improving your composition and your understanding of value will take your paintings to the next level. At the end of this tutorial, you will see examples of the same paintings with color mixing and you will then understand how powerful this exercise can be.

I’m going to walk you through a 3-step process:

  1. Watercolor supplies
  2. Painting execution
  3. Analysis after finishing the painting

Watercolor supplies

For this painting, I will only use Winsor Blue (Green Shade) from Winsor & Newton but you can use Cobalt Blue or French Ultramarine blue as well. For the watercolor brushes for this painting, I will use 1 mop brush (Raphael 803 size 4) and 1 synthetic brush (Escoda Perla size 10).

As for the paper, I only use Arches rough cold press 300g 100% cotton. I stretch the paper with some tape. I don’t wet the paper before painting. I tilt the board on an easel by around 20° to get the water going downwards when I paint the graded wash. Finally, I get a sponge to dry the brushes and a water bottle spray to wet the washes that are drying too fast.

Here is the reference photo. As you can see, the mountains in the background create directional lines towards the boat.

Boat Reference Photo For Watercolor Painting copy

Painting Execution – How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape

Start with a light blue wash (lots of water and very few pigments) with the mop brush. Go downwards until you reach the horizon line.

Step 1 How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape Watercolor Monochromatic Painting copy

Don’t wait too much (the wash has to be still quite wet) and pick lots of blue pigments with little water. Make a single brush stroke to define the mountains in the background. Do not dabble as it will spoil the freshness of watercolor.

Step 2 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting

Fill the bottom of the mountains with the same amount of pigments and then fill the bottom of the mountains with lots of pigments to create the impression of trees in the distance.
Let the mountains paint themselves thanks to gravity. The pigments will gather until the horizon line and it will create a blur effect from afar.

Step 4 How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape Mountains

Start the wash for the water with pure water on the mop brush. It will bring with it the pigments from the distant shore and it will consequently create the reflections of the mountains on the water. Start putting more blue pigments as you go downwards.

Step 5 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting

Reach the bottom of the painting with a graded wash. You always have to put more pigments than water, otherwise it will create a discrepancy in the water’s wash.

Step 6 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting

This part is optional: to create waves, take the synthetic brush with almost pure pigments and make quick horizontal brush marks on the wet wash to create the wave effect.

Step 7 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting

Now is time to dry the paper. You can use a hairdryer or you can let the watercolor dry naturally.
Keep the boat simple and start with the body of the boat.

Step 8 How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape Watercolor Monochromatic Painting copy

Once the body is done, you can paint inside the boat with some brush marks to create an impression of stuff going on in the boat.

Step 9 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting

Then paint the fisherman on the boat. Be careful on the proportion compared to the boat.

Step 10 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting copy

To create a story, paint a fishing rod. This fisherman is waiting for something…

Step 11 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting copy

The reflection should be lighter than the boat. Keep it loose with small horizontal brush marks to create the illusion of water reflection.

Step 12 Watercolor Monochromatic Painting copy

Your one color atmospheric painting is finished. Congratulations!!

Step 13 How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape Final Image

Analysis After finishing The Painting

You can compare to other paintings from the same reference photo. Here is a variant with warmer colors. The atmosphere is completely different.

Monochromatic Watercolor Painting Example 2

And here is another one with a more detailed background.

Monochromatic Watercolor Painting Example 3

As you can see, you can play with only one color to create very different moods in your watercolor paintings.

Various examples of How To Paint A Watercolor Landscape

If you want to know exactly how to paint this landscape in watercolor, I created a FREE watercolor masterclass video where I film in real time all my process for this painting and I also explain the biggest mistakes to avoid. To have instant access to this FREE course, you just have to click here!

Recommended3 recommendationsPublished in Tutorials
15 Comments
  1. Rosemarie Crawford 4 months ago

    Love this post!!! Ready to click for free masterclass video. Thanks!

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      Thanks a lot for your comment Rosemarie !! Hope you will enjoy the masterclass video 🙂

  2. Karen Fortier 4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this Remy!

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      Hello Karen, I’m very happy if you like this tutorial ! Hope to see you soon.

  3. Sandra Strait 4 months ago

    What a fantastic tutorial, Remy! I loved seeing the variations. It really showed how much variation you can get with only slight changes.

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      Hi Sandra, Indeed sometimes small things can get you huge benefit 🙂

  4. Brinda bhatt 4 months ago

    Amazing post.I loved the idea of using just one color .

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      Hi Brinda. Thank you for your comment. Indeed one color is also easier because you don’t have to think of color mixing 🙂

  5. Mary Roff 4 months ago

    Thank you for sharing!!

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      You’re more than welcome Mary !

  6. Susan Masters 4 months ago

    Thank you so much for this beautiful painting and tutorial

    • Author
      Remy Lach 4 months ago

      Hi Susan, I ‘m glad you enjoyed this tutorial ! Thank you for your comment.

  7. Loan Anh Pham 3 months ago

    Wonderful tutorial 😍

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