Home » 2 Ways, 1 Mission: A Historical Watercolor Painting Of Mission San Juan

2 Ways, 1 Mission: A Historical Watercolor Painting Of Mission San Juan

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Step 1: A Grayscale Compositional Study

historical-watercolor-san-juan-step-1

In this tutorial, we’ll be painting something more historical: the Mission San Juan Capistrano. To begin, Bill focuses on the compositional process by first doing a version in black and white.

Tape the edges of the smaller 9″ x 12″ watercolor paper block using artist’s tape, then draw a rectangle that will frame your painting area. This will be a rough guide as to the size of your final painting. Next, draw in simple outlines of the objects you see in the reference picture, starting from the largest shapes to the smallest. You can tweak the composition as you go. For example, Bill shortens the trees as they need to fit inside his frame, and places the main focus of the building slightly off-center for a better design. He also adds a few figures in the archways so they’ll stand out against the dark background.

Remember to sketch the building in perspective, and try not to erase, as you might damage the surface of your paper. There’s also no need to be 100% accurate or to include every single detail, since this is just a quick painting study.