How To Paint Loose Watercolor Landscapes

In this article, you will discover tips for how to paint loose watercolor landscapes. There’s also a video demonstration so you can easily paint along with me.

One of the wonderful things about painting is that there are no rules. You can paint however you want and create whatever you imagine. That said, some techniques will help make your paintings more successful. In this article, I’ll share some tips on how to paint loose watercolor landscapes, as well as a video demo so you can see how it’s done!

How to paint loose landscapes

Painting loose can be challenging in the beginning. But with some experience and technique you can easily make it happen. It’s best to;

  • Start with the inspiration: Always use images and scenery that speak to you
  • Develop a point of interest: Where do you want the viewers to go?
  • Consider value hierarchy: Where will you place the lightest and darkest values?
  • Decide between two palette option: Do you envision a chromatin, or a tonal painting?
  • Explore medium and subject: You should spend a lot of time DOODLING! Avoid painting finished art 24-7.
  • Finished art is restricting and will always stifle your creativity.

That’s a quick list of how I’ve learned to paint loose but of course there’s more to it. You can find some links below to courses that will teach you a step-by-step approach to loosening up your landscape art.

watercolor palette image


Here’s a list of materials recommended and used by WCF. We feel these are the best watercolor supplies on the shelf and offer amazing affordability and longevity.

  • Holbein paint: 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: Strathmore mixed media paper, 140 lb. cold press 11″ x 14″
Inspiration image

Finding the right inspiration

What is it about a landscape that speaks to you? Is it the rolling hills, the sparkling water, or the majestic trees? It can be helpful to find inspiration in nature before you start painting. Spend some time outdoors looking at landscapes and taking photographs. Once you have an idea of what you want to paint, it will be easier to plan for success.

I’m using a photo reference taken while visiting Williamsburg, VA. It’s a charming area loaded with historical buildings and places to visit. I took plenty of pics and this is the one I have chosen for the landscape demo.

Planning for success

One of the keys to painting loose landscapes is planning. This means sketching out your composition and choosing your colors before you start painting. If you have a plan, it will be easier to stay loose and not get stuck in the details.

I like to start with a point of interest. From there I will develop whatever needs to be done to lead the viewer into the scene and rest their eyes on the scene.

Choosing the right color palette

Choosing a color palette

When choosing a color palette for all my subjects, I use two options. They are tonal and chromatic.

  1. Tonal palettes have more neutrals and earth tones. This type of palette is great for landscapes because it helps create a harmonious painting.
  2. Chromatic palettes have more color and can be used to create more dynamic paintings. This type of palette is well suited for cityscapes, seascapes, or any subject with lots of colors.

I am using a chromatic palette because I wanted to make the main house vibrant yellow with green shutters. There are some neutrals but the overall feel is colorful.

How to paint loose watercolor landscapes


In this article, you’ve learned some tips for how to paint loose watercolor landscapes. You’ve also seen a video demonstration so you can see how it’s done. I hope you’ll try painting along with me!

How to learn more

Here are the best courses for learning to paint amazing landscapes with watercolors. Some are beginner-friendly while others are more advanced.

That’s all folks! Thanks for reading and watching, and I’ll see you next time.