Skip navigation

The above watercolors were painted with the idea of studying value transitions in the landscape. It is the first assignment for my Watercolor Landscape class this session. We were to use one or two colors and enhance the depth by making decisions on how to divide the space in the landscape with value changes. We were to pay attention to not dividing our scenes in half with value and to make dramatic enough changes to provide contrast and depth. The above two paintings were painted withย  neutral tint watercolor paint and the bottom one was painted with burnt sienna and prussian blue.

I felt a sense of freedom painting these studies. It allowed me to pay attention to the composition and division of space as well as to concentrate on my brush techniques by taking the pressure off of having to think about color. I learned that we need to push the contrast in order to enhance the feeling of depth in a scene.ย  I will do more of these in the future. It was fun.


  1. Wow, Leslie, that one in burnt sienna and Prussian blue is absolutely stunning! It’s amazing how just two colors can result in such a range of hues. Inspiring!

    • That’s exactly what I thought, Anne. How many shades can I get with two colors and cominations of the two seem endless. Really takes the pressure off and allows me to concentrate on space, shape and value. Thank you!

  2. great work!! i am always in love with B/W. ๐Ÿ™‚
    —(visit my site

    • Thank you Anindya. Had never visited your website before. Pretty interesting. Lion story is very cool.

  3. Wow is right! I love each one, and they’re all so different. I think the second is my favorite, the way you captured the details of the scene with so few hard lines. It just looks so cool with wonderful light values. The first is a terrific cityscape, also with great contrast. And I love the colors of the last one. So much depth and you did a beautiful job with the mirror-quality of the quiet water.

    • I like the second one, also, Cindy. It was fun and kind of abstract to play around with. The passage of leaves through the light portion in the middle of the top of the painting stumped me for awhile and I think I learned something there for when I paint this in color. We’ll see. Thank you!

  4. Leslie, these are terrific. I love the value changes in both of the top two. And the burnt sienna and Prussian blue really sing to me. You know I’m partial to City Scapes, but the middle one with the steps really has an interesting sense of depth to it. Great job…and great inspiration for me to do more in B & W

    • I like that middle one, too. I can see it on masa paper or rice paper collage with watercolor or just plain watercolor. I had fun trying to figure out the values. We’ll see, but I do want to try and paint it in color. If you do try black and white watercolor, I get my best results with neutral tint. Thank you, Carol!

  5. Love these! It is always great to see your work and lessons. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thank you, Louise. Loved your recent painting of the leaves and that one of the lillypads. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. These are wonderful, Leslie! I can always count on you to inspire me to be better and see things differently. I especially love the last one! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Working with two colors like that last painting is always fun. I learn so much about how far these pigments can stretch. Thank you, Beth. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. These are beautiful, Leslie! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. I’m fond of your First Thaw 5, with its burnt sienna and Prussian blue. As you point out, muted tonality can be quite effective.

    • Thank you, Steve. You are so good with value and contrast, I consider this high praise.

  9. Stunning pieces Leslie, the contrasts of brown and blue look terrific in the last one!

  10. I think they all turned out beautifully. My favorite, I think, is the middle piece simply because of its point of view, as though looking down from a higher elevation. The colors in the last look amazing too. I’ve done one color portraits before and absolutely loved the result.

    • I like that second one, also, Sherry, and want to try it in color. Working in one color is so freeing and just plain fun. Thank you!

  11. I really appreciate the information that you give in your blog. Thanks.

  12. So beautiful!!! Your paintings make me want to paint landscapes again ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oh do! It would be neat to see what you do. Thank you for this comment, Cha.

  13. Theyโ€™re wonderful, Leslie, all three of your paintings. In the second one I love the light. The third one is magical. And your city is alive. Thanks for sharing.

  14. This is an exercise I always resist, and yet, when done is very satisfying… You inspire me to practice this. I love all three, so interesting… and yes, the shapes and positions become more apparent. Thanks for the idea!

    • You know, there are so many exercises that I want to try, also. I zip past them paying them little heed. I would like to do more of these and see where they take me, too. They don’t have to be big, just snippets of visions. I like them better that way. Thank you, Isabelle! ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Ah what is it about b&w, plus shades of grey, that is soooo appealing? Dunno, but I like it, Leslie!

    • You know? I have always liked black and white work in galleries and such. I think it may be because they do leave something unsaid that, I, the viewer, get to fill in. That is what I like about a good writer. They are always the one that leave the reader with some things to fill in, to finish. Thank you, Eva!

  16. Bottom one blows me away!

  17. loving the tree in the bottom piece… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Trees seem to have a certain personality, gesturing the way they do with no leaves part of the year. I know you feel the same way I do on that score. Thank you, JRuth. ๐Ÿ™‚

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. By Stairway: A Landscape « Leslie White on 01 Nov 2012 at 1:31 pm

    […] week I chose one of my monochromatic paintings from last week’s postย and painted it in color.ย  The most fun was carving out the areas of light and trying to figure […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: