Watercolor for Beginners: Step by Step Mountain

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Watercolor for Beginners: Step by Step Mountain

Sarah Burns
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(Also available on Skillshare)

In this beginner watercolor class you will learn how to paint this watercolor mountain scene, but also so much more. Mountains are a great subject to study when you are starting out because they are interesting and provide lots of opportunities to play with lighting and texture. I will discuss water control, brush technique, and important landscape concepts such as atmospheric perspective.

After this tutorial you will have some repeatable strategies for all types of landscapes.

Class Structure

1. Introduction

2. Supplies and Quick Tips

3. Watercolor Paper

4. Atmospheric Perspective

5. Painting the Sky

6. Mountain - First Layer

7. Mountain - Second Layer

8. Painting the Lake/Reflection

9. Foreground Elements



You do not have to use the same colors as me, but if you’d like to know, the colors I use in this painting are:

  • Blues: Schmincke Ultramarine Finest and Pthalo Sapphire Blue


  • When I say “warm green” I am using: Mixture of M. Graham Hansa Yellow with Daniel Smith Diopside Green (a Primatek color)
  • Dark Green: Schmincke Perylene Green
  • When I say “cool green” I am using: Mixture of Daniel Smith Diopside Green and Schmincke Ultramarine Finest
  • Pthalo Green is another color I mention.


  • M. Graham Hansa Yellow


  • Daniel Smith Quinacridone Burnt Orange and Schmincke Yellow Ochre


  • Instead of black I use Sennelier neutral tint (for the darkest part of the mountain rock)

Brushes: Silver Black Velvet #12 round, a cheap random #8 round, and a Script brush

Paper: In this video I use Arches Cold Press, 300 gsm.

(If you use my links to purchase paper, I get a small percentage of payment for being an Amazon Affiliate)

Other Paper suggestions:

Extremely High Quality:

  • Arches,
  • Fabriano Artistico,
  • Saunders Waterford

Great Quality:

  • Bockingford,
  • Strathmore 500 Series

Good entry level:

  • Fluid brand 100 series (cotton)

Decent Cellulose papers:

  • Fluid Easy-Block,
  • Strathmore Watercolor Postcards


  • Currently the “best” cotton sketchbooks on the market are Etchr sketchbooks which use Fabriano Artistico paper. You can also find some handmade sketchbooks on Etsy or similar, but they get pricey. Alternatively, buy big sheets of Arches and cut it down to make your own sketchbooks/travel size booklets. Lots of tutorials on youtube for making your own sketchbooks.
  • Another good cotton option is Strathmore 500 Series Travel Sketchbook
  • A good non-cotton sketchbook I’ve used lately is Seawhite of Brighton Travel watercolor sketchbook. It handles heavy washes and glazing better than a lot of others I’ve tried.
  • I no longer recommend Moleskine watercolor sketchbooks because they actually make some basic skills more difficult (like glazing!)

My Teaching Style

My goal as a teacher is for students to take away a deeper understanding of the topic rather than just copying what they see. That way, students can go off on their own and find success within their own practice.

I began landscape painting in 2015, and since then it has become my career! I am a full time independent artist, nature lover, and online teacher.

I’ve been teaching monthly watercolor and gouache tutorials on Twitch and Youtube for over four years, and I enjoy open communication with my students.

Connect with me

Use #sarahburnstutor on social media so I can find you and share your work.

My Instagram:

I want this!

Full length step-by-step tutorial for how to paint this scene.

+ Line art
+ 3 Reference photos
+ Value study