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Painting Maine Dories
Watercolor Painting Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

These old Maine dories are one of the most beautiful things to paint I've ever seen. I love that these are working boats, still being used.

I've been painting these Mount Desert Island dories for decades. Sometimes when I visit, I can't find them and worry where they've disappeared to. Sometimes I find them in a tidal cove I've never seen a boat in before. They are lovely boats to paint.

Today, the sun is behind barely raining clouds, so the light shimmers on the water. The luminous colors of the reflections are amazing. So let's paint!

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting tutorial

Painting Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Painting Boats


Painting Water

Art Supplies

9" x 12"
Arches Rough Press

Isabey Mop, no.6
Isabey Pointed Round Sable, no.14


M. Graham watercolors

Maroon Perylene
Cadmium Red
Nickel Azo Yellow
Cobalt Teal
Cobalt Violet
Quinacridone Rust
White Gouache
Wax Crayon

Painting Demonstration 1

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I begin with a very loose dry brush stroke. This is a painting where it's better to be a little cautious and build up in layers. You need a lot of white paper for that beautiful shimmer.

Maine Dories Reference Photo

Maine Dories Reference Photo

Painting Demonstration 2

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

I paint the tarp covering the nets in a very rough stroke, just hitting the shadow areas. I'm using cobalt teal and cobalt violet.

Painting Demonstration 3

Painting Maine Dories Painting Tutorial 3

Cobalt violet and nickel azo yellow give a lovely glow to the stern of the boat. I want the luminous glow under all the shadow areas.

Artist's Tips

Take your time and build up in layers of dry brush. It's easy to paint over whites, but impossible to get the white paper back.

Painting Demonstration 4

Painting Maine Dories Painting Tutorial 4

A little bit more detail on the boats. I'm still painting very slowly for me to reserve whites where I might need them.

The entire painting took about 2 hours to paint. I have to admit that was over several days since during the holidays I grab 15 minutes when I can steal it!

As I paint the hull's boards, I keep in mind the shape of the hull. I want the boards to curve with the boat's curves like they are built to curve.

Painting Demonstration 5

Painting Maine Dories Painting Tutorial 5

That shimmering water is barely there in the background and foreground. Just little hints of tidal cove ripples with sparkling light.

You really need squirrel hair to just graze the paper for the water. Then attack it with splatters - you don't want to get too fussy!

Painting Demonstration 6

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

A few barely there cobalt blue and teal strokes tie the ripples together. I'm still leaving a lot of white paper and gaps in my strokes.

Painting Demonstration 7

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting Tutorial 7

I'm finally starting to see the lovely glow in that water. I dull down a few whites, still proceeding with caution.

When you're painting reflections, always let the ripples and sunlight distort the reflection slightly.

Painting Maine Dories Watercolor Painting demonstration

To purchase Painting Maine Dories original watercolor painting, please click!

Painting Maine Dories Final Watercolor Painting!

This isn't the first time I've painted these dories. I doubt it will be the last. I love to see these classic boats being used for fishing still. It's a beautiful, timeless image.

I'm very happy with this painting. It's not the sunny day I generally paint boats on, but a more overcast, luminous light. I generally rely on great hull reflections as the focus of my boat paintings. It's rather nice to be concentrating on the reflection and shimmering water for a change. (Not that I don't love my hull reflections! :) )

This is a more difficult painting to paint excellently, but I think even a beginner watercolor artist could do a lot with it and have something they'd be happy with. After all, it's still about lovely wooden boats, bright reflections and a beautiful Maine day!

Related Art Lessons

Painting Maine Dories watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

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