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Painting a forest with watercolors and mixed media : Seeing the Forest through the Trees, watercolor and mixed media on paper mounted on board, wax finish

painting a forest with watercolor

Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Watercolor and Mixed media on paper mounted on board
wax finish,
30 x 30 inches


Click on image to buy original or print

Click on image to buy print, original is sold



My latest watercolor and mixed media (gouache) on paper mounted on board, it is for a group exhibition coming up in February 2013. The painting had to be a forest, I had a line that had to be part of the painting and it had to be 30 x 30 inches. Here are pictures of the step I took, there is also a video at the end of the post where you can see the whole process in a time lapse video.

Mounting watercolor paper on board

Some artists will paint their painting on paper before mounting it, I prefer mounting the paper before painting as I stretch the paper at the same time I am mounting it by mounting it wet

You can see a more detailed post about mounting watercolor paper on board here:  Mounting watercolor paper on board


foliage painting palette

Here is the palette I an using on the foliage, various mixes of :Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Green, Russian Blue, Cadmium Orange, Raw Umber (not on the picture).

I then paint all the foliage with the various mixes of green

I then paint all the foliage with the various mixes of green

palette for painting the trees  trunks

To paint the tree trunks I am using the same colors with the addition of Permanent Red violet and Burnt Umber.

painting the tree trunks

I paint the smaller trunks in one time, mixing colors directly on the paper.

Painting the trees trunks

For the bigger trees I will apply several layers to render the tree texture.


Painting the tree trunks

I paint the trunks moving through the picture from left to right.

painting a forest in watercolor

Once I painted all the elements, I add some darker browns on the trunks to increase contrast.

adding white gouache

I am also adding a layer of white gouache diluted in water in some areas of the painting to add light and texture.

splashing water on a finished watercolor painting

Then I splash the finished painting with drips of water, diluted watercolor paint and diluted gouache paint.

I let the paint move and make some adjustments by taking off some paint with a tissue paper

I let the paint move and make some adjustments by taking off some paint with a tissue paper

finishing a watercolor painting with wax

Once the painting has dried , I apply a layer of wax with a soft cloth, then I am using an hair dryer to make that wax layer more even and remove brush strokes.

watercolor and mixed media on paper mounted on board

The finished painting:Seeing the Forest through the Trees
Watercolor and Mixed media on paper mounted on board
wax finish, 30 x 30 inches



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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Debra Gow August 24, 2013, 6:02 am

    Hi Sandrine, love love your trees, I too love paintings them. They keep me grounded and humble. I have mounted my papers before and used a medium on canvas that allows watercolors to hang in and flow, ( look at my turtle and Aqua Swans on website) cool effect.
    I notice that your paper is all wrinkled in the photo, is that just it being wet or is there a medium on it? Your video shows you smoothing it out with a roller. This one does not look smooth. Also the cold wax I have used, did not like the brand, your jar is turned around, what brand do you prefer? Keep the video’s and demo’s coming. Very Inspiring. Debra Gow.

    • Sandrine Pelissier August 27, 2013, 5:38 am

      Hello Debra,
      Yes, trees are fascinating to me too.
      When mounting the paper on board I am stretching it at the same time, so I wet it before, wait a bit and then fix it and stretch it on the board by using the roller. I try to be careful not to put any medium on the surface of the paper when I am stretching it as it would make he paper waterproof.
      My wax medium brand is Doorland.
      Thanks for your comment:)

  • Mike wakefield December 5, 2012, 8:32 am

    Hey Sandrine,Love the video,Music + of course the Painting,well done!-Mike Wakefield.

    • Sandrine Pelissier December 5, 2012, 10:50 am

      Thanks Mike, nice to see you on the blog!
      I enjoyed looking at your exhibition at the Lynn valley library :-)

  • CheyAnne Sexton December 3, 2012, 7:17 am

    I love the way you did all this. Never thought of adding it to a board tho. that would help when it is so big. And I love the undercolors in your trunks. I use purples and red there too. this is a stunning piece.
    peace n abundance,

  • Gaetanne November 29, 2012, 8:29 pm

    Really beautiful, I love watching you work all speeded up! It looks just like an area in Pacific Spirit Park where I used to walk each day, with all the little spruce and cedar trees growing under the standing firs. Sandrine, I’ve never heard of applying wax to watercolour before. Is there a step one has to do before applying the wax? Thank you for sharing this with the world!

    • Sandrine Pelissier November 30, 2012, 8:04 am

      Thanks Gaetanne :-)
      I used cold wax medium and just did spread it on the paper with a soft cloth once the painting was dry. A few days after, the wax is completely dry and you can buff it to make it shiny. I like this method, it is more natural, the wax is adding a bit of contrast and richness to the colors and it smells good :-)

      • Gaetanne November 30, 2012, 2:13 pm

        Sandrine, thank you. I think you are a fantastic artist. Would you ever consider doing an intensive workshop in January or February? I’m thinking a 5 day in a row type of thing. I live on Gabriola now but I could stay at my parents’ house in N. Van. I bet others would be interested too. My husband used to teach 5 day intensives in photography and they were well attended workshops. But I’m not even sure if your studio allows for that type of thing. Would you let me know? Thanks, you’ve got my email address.

      • Sandrine Pelissier December 2, 2012, 7:56 pm

        Hello Gaetanne,
        That is a good idea, I will think about it. I am only allowed two students at a time in my studio because of the district regulations so I might have to look for a different place.
        I will email you if I set up a workshop in the next months, in the meantime you are welcome to come for a cup of tea in my studio if you have a trip planned to the mainland.
        See you soon :-)

  • Jaci November 29, 2012, 12:19 pm

    Inspiring. I just took some shots of east Texas colors. This inspires me to try a little section. Thank you for sharing your talents. Your explanations gives me the courage to give it a try.

  • Margot Paris November 29, 2012, 9:29 am

    Sandrine, this is stunning. Your control of the depth of field through colour gradations is masterful. This technique is inspiring. Remarkable piece of art.

    • Sandrine Pelissier November 29, 2012, 10:17 am

      Thanks Margo :-)
      It was nice meeting you Saturday, I really liked looking at your journal, great sketches and watercolours! Thanks for sending the info about the Bali trip as well.

  • Krista - Poppyprint November 28, 2012, 1:06 pm

    Sandrine, that is amazing (the process and the final result). Beautiful work!

  • Linda November 27, 2012, 8:29 am

    Thank you for this lesson! I appreciate it very much. It is inspiring to me as a quilter.

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