Maine Path
Watercolor Painting Tutorial

by Jennifer Branch
YouTube Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Hiking and painting go together perfectly, two of my favorite things to do. This watercolor painting is done from a photo I took of my oldest son riding on my husband's shoulders on a gorgeous Acadia National Park hike.

The trail is on Beech Mountain, one of the easier ones with a toddler. My son had gotten tired at this point and my husband was carrying him so we could get back before sundown. I think I took a thousand pictures that golden hour.

This painting is all about that hazy light at the end of the day. Deep purple shadows, luminous haze and a trail to follow.

Maine Path Watercolor Painting tutorial

Painting Tutorial Level


Skill Building

Mixing Greens


Art Supplies

10" x 14"
Twinrocker Cold Press

Isabey Pointed Round Sable, no.14
Isabey Mop, no.6
Isabey Rigger, no.1


M. Graham watercolors

Nickel Azo Yellow
Cobalt Blue
Ultramarine Blue
Cobalt Violet
Burnt Sienna

Painting Demonstration 1

Maine Path Watercolor Painting Lesson 1

I start with a simple loose wash of nickel azo yellow. While it's wet, I bleed in cobalt violet.

Painting Demonstration 2

Maine Path Watercolor Painting Lesson 2

The first wash only has 3 pigments, nickel azo yellow, cobalt violet and ultramarine blue. All of these are granulating pigments that flow together beautifully.

After the first wash, I let the painting dry completely.

Painting Demonstration 3

Maine Path Painting Tutorial 3

I want strong interesting darks on my upper left to balance the figures on my lower right. The same 3 pigments work for that!

A few bright spring greens give the path somewhere to go to.

Artist Tips

Don't fuss too much with pigments. Just let them flow!
Maine Path watercolor painting tutorial by Jennifer Branch

Painting Demonstration 4

Maine Path Painting Tutorial 4

Adding detail is a bit tricky in this one. I want attention directed to only a few places with the light hazing everything else. Keeping other details to a minimum keeps the viewer's eyes where I want them to go.

Try some negative painting. That adds "detail" with less fussiness.

Notice how the cooler blues of the mountain pull the eye down that path.

Painting Demonstration 5

Maine Path Painting Tutorial 5

I'm just painting the silhouettes of the figures. The biggest detail is the shadow of my husband's head barely showing over my son's shoulder. It's so difficult to keep human details to a minimum. But too much detail will ruin the painting.

Painting Demonstration 6

Maine Path Watercolor Painting Tutorial 6

Splatter! I know I love my splatter, but I'm trying to keep it down on this one. A little for the leaf texture, but it's too abrupt for the hazy light.

I've only used burnt sienna for the darkest shadows since it's an opaque pigment. I want everything luminous, not dull and opaque.

Maine Path Watercolor Painting Tutorial

Maine Path Final Watercolor Painting!

I love how this painting turned out! Maybe because of the special memory for me, but quite a bit because I love painting light.

It's always special when you paint a great light effect. The camera can only do so much and you have to be very fast to catch changing light in a quick sketch. (Which I couldn't this time.) Mostly I rely on my memory and putting myself back in that moment. Cameras, even RAW, can't capture that amazing subtlety, the glowing haze spreading of the golden hours. It's funny, because that's the best time to photograph, of course, but a great painting still sees things the camera can't.

Maybe it's the editing I can do in a painting, while the camera must show everything weighted the same.

Anyhow, if you get to Beech Mountain, try the non ladder trail (or the ladder if you can carry paints up it) and bring your paints. Flying Mountain is lovely too. They're short enough trails you can have time to quickly sketch (maybe bring your lobster dinner) and get home for dark. Do be home before dark, cliff paths after dark are no fun!

Where ever you are this weekend, enjoy that golden hour. Remember it in a sketch or hold it fast in your memory. It'll be worth a painting someday.

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