Cliff Notes: A Watercolor Demo by Michael Holter


Cliff Notes by Michael Holter

Artist Michael Holter is an award-winning artist who works in watercolor and oil. Here, Holter shares his step-by-step process for the creation of his piece, Cliff Notes. Make sure to check out the Summer 2021 issue of Watercolor Artist to learn more about the artist and his recent projects.

Step 1

This one starts with a careful drawing of the main shapes that make up the rocks and cliffs in the scene.


Step 2

Then I apply a wet into wet underpainting to create color harmony and leave a few white for drama.


Step 3

I rewet the sky area and paint the trees into the wet area making sure to keep some lighter to create more depth and distance.


Step 4

Starting at the top left of the first cliff, I mingle cool and warm pigments to mimic the colors of the rocks in shadow while leaving some unpainted areas indicating sun catching the top of the rocks.


Step 5

The foreground is on a different plane than the cliff, so it is getting more direct sun. I keep the values lighter and brighter in hue.


Step 6

Now I add the darks and details into the large shapes to separate the planes and to give texture to the rocks.


Step 7

More texture is added to the foreground and details into the rocks to complete the painting.

Make sure to check out the Summer 2021 issue of Watercolor Artist to learn more about Michael Holter and his recent projects.



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