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Charleston Watercolor
Watercolor Painting Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Wander with me down this shady Charleston street and set up to paint this lovely old house. The shadows and luminous color on this house are just gorgeous to paint. The brightly colors of the American flag, the deep gray green of the ancient live oak, and the exquisite wrought iron fence make this a house that embodies Charleston.

I love painting the detail on these beautiful houses. The proportions, the extra touches and the feeling of a home that's been loved.

Let's paint!"

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting tutorial

Painting Tutorial Level


Skill Building


Art Supplies

9" x 12"
Arches Rough Press

Isabey Pointed Round Sable, no.14
Isabey Rigger, no.1


M. Graham watercolors

Azo Yellow
Nickel Azo Yellow
Pthalo Green
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Teal
Cobalt Violet
Burnt Sienna
White Gouache

Painting Demonstration 1

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I begin with a very bold cobalt blue wash over almost the entire painting's shadows. It's a very hit and miss wash, with many gaps from the rough paper texture.

Charleston Watercolor Reference Photo
Charleston Watercolor Reference Photo

Painting Demonstration 2

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

As I move around the painting, I transition to ultramarine blue in deeper shadows and cobalt violet to warm the blues up some. I'm still working with very hit and miss strokes.

I start painting the old live oak with just a touch of nickel azo yellow added to the mix.

Painting Demonstration 3

Charleston Watercolor Painting Tutorial 3

As I move the greens to brighter areas, I gradually add more pthalocyanine green. Since I don't want any of the vegetation as my focus, I blur most edges.

I'm painting the house brighter yellow than it actually is for a bit of contrast. I start with azo yellow, with nickel azo yellow added quickly for texture.

Artist's Tips

Don't add too much detail at the beginning.

Painting Demonstration 4

Charleston Watercolor Painting Tutorial 4

The palm tree is rather fun to paint. I used a vertical sweep of burnt sienna, then dashed in some horizontal lines for the trunk rings.

Painting Demonstration 5

Charleston Watercolor Painting Tutorial 5

The oak tree trunk is painted with mostly vertical strokes for the ridges.

My favorite part of the painting is the lovely whites and shadows of the neighboring house. The porch ceiling is painted haunt blue, of course, and it reflects beautifully off the whites. I also love the whites of the trim details at the roofline. Lovely.

Painting Demonstration 6

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

The street shadows are fascinating to paint. Broad sweeps of deep purples with golden edges. Just let your brush dance!

Painting Demonstration 7

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

Notice how all the shadow patterns follows the distinct planes. The lighting is quite dramatic, so to get the shadows right, you need to know the plane's orientation to the sun.

This is a screenshot from last week's perspective drawing video.

I want you to notice that when I drew the painting, I shifted things very slightly to make a better painting. For example, I moved the tree so it framed the house better.

Once you know how to draw accurately, you can then adjust the landscape to make a better painting.

Charleston Watercolor Watercolor Painting demonstration

To purchase Charleston Watercolor original watercolor painting, please click!

Charleston Watercolor Final Watercolor Painting!

I've deepened a lot of the shadows for more contrast, but left the lovely glowing washes alone. I painted the wrought iron very roughly with a rigger, just hinting at details.

I added a touch of white gouache on the flag to make it sparkle.

I love strolling through Charleston. With lovely old houses everywhere, the only trouble an artist has is deciding which to paint first.

I hope this video inspires you to paint a beautiful house near you. Go for a stroll through your neighborhood and see what inspires you. Look for interesting light and shadow patterns. Or maybe you're inspired by luminous color. Where ever you are, there is always something beautiful to paint!

Related Art Lessons

Charleston Watercolor watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

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