How Do You Paint a Loose Watercolor Landscape?

The question remains: How can one master the art of painting loose watercolor landscapes? Let's have a look at my favorite tips and techniques.

How do you paint a loose watercolor landscape?
Too hot for a suit (detail) by Robert Joyner

Watercolor painting is a beautiful and challenging medium that can capture the subtleties of light and color in a way that no other medium can. One of the most popular subjects for watercolor artists is landscapes. But how do you paint a loose watercolor landscape? This blog post will guide you through the process, from choosing your materials to mastering the techniques. And, it's beginner friendly tips so anyone can join in and have a go!

Let's have a look at a video demo for painting loose watercolor landscapes

Take a moment to immerse yourself in the world of loose watercolor landscapes as we invite you to watch a captivating video demonstration. This inspiring visual journey showcases the artistry of painting landscapes with a loose and fluid style using watercolors. Delve into the harmonious blend of colors, the graceful brushstrokes, and the ethereal atmosphere that brings these landscapes to life.

Get ready to be transported to serene cityscape settings, and pay attention to the approach and attitude I used along with skillful techniques that effortlessly capture the essence of cars, buildings, figures and more on paper. Let this video demonstration ignite your passion for watercolor painting and awaken your own creative spirit.

Choosing Your Materials

The first step in painting a loose watercolor landscape is choosing your materials. The quality of your materials can significantly impact the outcome of your work, so it's worth investing in good-quality paints, brushes, and paper.

Watercolor paints come in two forms: tubes and pans. Tubes are more versatile as they allow you to mix large quantities of paint, while pans are more convenient for quick sketches or outdoor painting sessions. Choose colors that reflect the landscape you want to paint.

As for brushes, a variety of sizes and shapes will give you more flexibility in creating different effects. A large flat brush is essential for washes, while round brushes are great for detailing. Remember to experiment with unconventional brushes! And try using small brushes for large washes as well as big brushed for small washes. Mix it up!

Lastly, watercolor paper plays an important role in how your painting turns out. Heavier papers can absorb more water without warping or buckling. Look for papers labeled "cold press" as they have a slightly textured surface ideal for watercolors.

Understanding Loose Watercolor Techniques

Loose watercolor techniques refers to a style where the artist allows colors to flow and blend freely on the paper rather than controlling every detail meticulously. This approach captures the essence of the scene rather than every minute detail, resulting in a more expressive and dynamic painting.

Here are some techniques to help you achieve this style:

  • Wet-on-Wet: This technique involves applying wet paint onto wet paper or onto an area already painted with wet color. It allows colors to flow into each other naturally, creating soft edges and interesting color blends.
  • Brush choices: Use unconventional brushes such as a dagger to paint the bulk of the painting. Daggers offer many possibilities becasue their bristles are long and floppy. They also have a wide range of strokes from a fine line to broad wash.
  • No drawing: By not adding a drawing before the painting starts gives you more freedom as opposed to adding one and painting within the lines. I often see students draw way too much information and they end up painting stiff artwork. So, lose the coloring book setup and go with no drawing to see what happens.
  • Color Mixing: Instead of mixing watercolors on your palette, try dropping different colors directly onto wet areas of your paper and let them mix naturally.
  • Graded Washes: Use this technique to create smooth transitions from one color to another or from light to dark.

Looking for fresh ideas to paint with watercolors? Check out 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!

Creating Your Loose Watercolor Landscape

Now that we've covered materials and techniques let’s dive into how do you paint a loose watercolor landscape?

  • Avoid Sketching Your Composition (mentioned earlier): Start by lightly sketching out your composition with pencil on your watercolor paper.
  • Apply Your Washes: Begin by applying broad washes of color for the sky and ground using the wet-on-wet technique.
  • Add Mid-Tone Colors: Once your initial wash has dried, start adding mid-tone colors using both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques.
  • Add Details: Use smaller brushes to add details such as trees or buildings but remember not to overdo it – keep it loose!
  • Final Touches: Once everything has dried completely, evaluate your painting; add any final touches if needed but be careful not to overwork it.

If you enjoyed this article and painting landscapes, here are some courses you will love! These courses are easy-to-follow and loaded with step-by-step instructions on how to loosen up and paint amazing landscapes. Check them out!

Watercolor Landscape Workshop

Here's a great beginner course for learning to paint landscapes using various techniques. It covers skies, trees, grass, rocks and more. You'll love it!

Learn to Paint Amazing Landscapes

No Fear Watercolor Landscapes

Check out my favorite course for painting loose, fearless watercolor landscapes! It's loaded with tutorials and fresh ideas for painting expressive cityscapes, urban scenes and more.

Check It Out


Painting a loose watercolor landscape requires practice but with patience and perseverance, you'll soon be able to create beautiful landscapes full of life and movement! Remember that art is subjective - what matters most is that you enjoy the process! So grab those brushes now - happy painting!