Home » Easy Watercolor Landscape: Painting A Vineyard In Napa Valley

Easy Watercolor Landscape: Painting A Vineyard In Napa Valley

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Step 1: Sketching And Composing A Vineyard


Welcome to this step-by-step watercolor landscape course taught by Bill! As preparation before sketching, make sure you have a copy of the reference picture in front of you. In addition, apply artist’s tape to all edges of the paper to create a margin for possible framing purposes later. It also helps to make sure the size of paper is to the same scale as the reference picture, which you can do by following the diagonal line through the picture and onto the larger watercolor paper.

As you analyze your photo, be mindful of the composition and the colors you choose. Bill advises against placing the painting’s focal point in the center, as this makes for a very boring composition. Sketching a good composition also forms the foundation of your entire painting, and determines the end result. The goal isn’t to be realistic, but to get a good impression of the subject matter. This means you can add or remove elements from the reference photo to make it more interesting.

Bill divides the picture into 3 “bands” of information – the top, middle, and bottom third. You can divide your own paper in the same way as well, following the “Rule of Thirds“.

Start the sketch with the top band, drawing the 2 buildings and adjusting them so they’re not centered. Continue by adding the line of trees behind, drawing the shape of the forest rather than individual trees. Then, sketch the road and parking lot area as well, ignoring the wall that divides the road from the vineyard. For the vineyard area, sketch the support posts and the clusters of grape vines. Don’t forget to include the angle of perspective and depth within the fields! Also, as you add some details, remember that you don’t have to draw everything – you only need enough information to guide your painting. Once you’re done, you’re ready to paint.

Below is a close-up of Bill’s sketch: