Beginner Watercolor Landscape Tutorial Using Negative Space Techniques

This article delves into the art of creating a basic watercolor landscape for beginners, focusing on the utilization of negative space techniques.

Beginner Watercolor Landscape Tutorial Using Negative Space Techniques
Beginner negative space landscape study by Robert Joyner

In this blog post, we will explore how to paint a simple, beginner watercolor landscape using negative space techniques, emphasizing the importance of planning, composition, and value hierarchy.

Watercolor painting can be both a captivating and challenging artistic endeavor. One technique that can elevate your watercolor landscape paintings to new heights is utilizing negative space effectively.

Negative space refers to the unmarked, untouched areas surrounding the main subject, and it plays a pivotal role in creating balance, depth, and visual interest in your artwork.

Let's get started with how to paint simple watercolor landscape for newbies

Now that you know where this is going, we can start to learn beginner tips for creating awesome watercolor landscapes for beginners. The video covers a lot of useful ideas but be sure to read more below.

Materials List

Before diving into the process, let's gather the necessary materials for this watercolor landscape project:

  1. Watercolor paints: A basic set of watercolor paints in primary colors (red, blue, yellow) and secondary colors (orange, green, violet).
  2. Watercolor paper: Choose a high-quality, acid-free watercolor paper with a weight of at least 140lb (300gsm) to prevent buckling when water is applied.
  3. Watercolor brushes: Invest in a set of high-quality brushes, including round brushes (size 2, 6, 10) and a large flat brush for washes.
  4. Water container: A jar or cup to hold clean water for rinsing brushes.
  5. Palette: A watercolor palette for mixing and diluting colors.
  6. Masking tape: To secure your paper during the painting process and achieve clean edges.
  7. Pencil and eraser: For sketching your composition lightly before painting.
  8. Paper towels or sponges: For blotting and controlling water on your paper.

Here's an article that covers the watercolor materials I use and recommend for all levels. Check it out when you have time.

The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Watercolor Supplies
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, choosing the right watercolor supplies is crucial to achieving stunning results.

Simplifying the Composition

When painting a watercolor landscape, it's essential to keep the composition simple and uncluttered. This simplification allows you to focus on negative space and create a powerful visual impact.

Start by choosing a subject that features a clear focal point, such as a lone tree, a mountain, or a boat on a still lake. Avoid overly complex scenes with multiple elements, as they can overwhelm both the artist and the viewer.

Plan Your Techniques Before You Start

Before touching the paintbrush to the paper, it's crucial to have a clear plan in mind. Consider the techniques you'll use to convey various elements of the landscape. For instance:

  1. Negative Space Wash: Create a background wash by applying a light, diluted wash of blue or warm colors to represent the sky or distant hills. Leave the areas where the main subject will be untouched to create negative space.
  2. Wet-on-Wet: Apply a wet wash on the paper first and then drop in more concentrated pigment for trees, mountains, or reflections on water. The wet-on-wet technique allows colors to blend seamlessly and organically.
  3. Dry Brush: For textural elements like grass or rocks, use the dry brush technique by applying a slightly dry brush loaded with paint to create textured strokes.
  4. Lifting: Utilize lifting techniques to remove paint selectively and create highlights or lighter areas, such as clouds or sunlit spots on the landscape.
Beginner Watercolor Landscape Tutorial Using Negative Space Techniques
Beginner watercolor landscape study by Robert Joyner

Always Consider Value Hierarchy

Value hierarchy refers to the arrangement of light and dark areas in your painting to establish a sense of depth and dimension. Plan your painting by identifying the main light source and determining the areas of high contrast and low contrast. The focal point should have the highest contrast to draw the viewer's eye.

Start with a light pencil sketch to map out the areas of your painting and the distribution of positive and negative spaces. Consider how light falls on the landscape and use that knowledge to determine the placement of shadows and highlights. Keep in mind that negative space can be as expressive and impactful as the subject itself.

Hey, are you looking for fresh watercolor ideas for your next masterpiece? If so, read the article below;

60 Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners
Discover 60 easy watercolor painting ideas for beginners in our ultimate guide to this captivating medium. Unleash your creativity today!


Watercolor landscapes are a captivating way to express your artistic vision, and embracing negative space techniques adds an extra layer of depth and sophistication to your artwork.

By simplifying the composition, planning your techniques in advance, and considering value hierarchy, you can create stunning watercolor landscapes that draw viewers into your painted world.

Remember, watercolor painting is a journey of experimentation and practice, so don't be afraid to explore various techniques and styles to find your unique artistic voice. Happy painting!