Abstract Style Watercolor Cityscape Demo

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Here’s an abstract watercolor cityscape video demonstration where I use a photo reference to create some expressive cityscape art.

As you watch the demo it may seem that it’s carelessly created. The colors and brushstrokes are very arbitrary and don’t make a lot of sense. But as the painting progresses you will see how the chaos is tamed by using very common watercolor techniques. Have a look at the video and then we will cover some key moments that helped make this piece a winner.

What was used to paint this landscape

Materials used in this watercolor demo are as follows:

  • Holbein paints; Cadmium red light, alizarin crimson, Cobalt blue, ultramarine blue, cadmium yellow lemon, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, neutral tint
  • Brushes – Princeton Neptune pointed round #12, #6, Rigger #3/4″, Silver brush black velvet jumbo (medium)
  • Paper; Fabriano Artistico, bright white, 140 lb. cold press 11″ x 14″

What makes this cityscape painting work?

  • Composition sits well on the paper. You have the larger shape of the building that immediately grabs your attention. And it’s balanced by medium shapes of loosely painted distant buildings.
  • The value hierarchy works well and connected. By connected I mean the darker values of the building seamlessly blend into cast shadows and melt into the figures crossing the street. That’s by design!
  • The lighter values on the top of the roof help to convey a sense of light. If the hue was dark as the bottom of the roof it would feel too heavy. This is a touch that you can easily use in your work.
  • Since the point of interest is the figures every other detail is downplayed. Had I worked more info into the car or distant buildings it would have detracted from the figures.

These are just some of the ideas used to help create the piece. All in all I’m very satisfied with the results.

Could it be better? Yes!

But with watercolor I try to allow the medium to do it’s thing. I get out of the way as much as I can so that the abstract qualities can shine. I’m not a fan of rigid art that’s controlled in all areas of the painting. I instead prefer the blend abstract and reality but all the while make it my own. I see no point in copying nature.

Finished art and photo reference

Below you will discover the finished art and photo used to create the landscape.

Abstract watercolor cityscape painting
– Abstract style watercolor cityscape painting
Inspiration image
– Painting reference image
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