Saturday, February 15, 2014

“Stream with Snowy Branch” Watercolor Process Demo By Mira Fink

I was inspired to do this painting during a winter walk on an exceedingly cold day.  I was out to find some comfort in nature, as my mother had died recently and I was feeling so sad.  I took many photographs of this stream, but chose only a few to paint.  The reason I chose this one was that I loved the snow covered branch hanging over the stream and the way the light was hitting some of the trees making them so bright, while other trees were deep in shadow.  It was almost like a heavenly light.  Here’s the photo I took that day; it was too cold to do any sketches on location. 

Back in the studio, I drew a value sketch first on drawing paper to understand the composition and make any adjustments and then drew with pencil again lightly on my watercolor block.  Did you notice I added a third tree branch on the right tree?

                                                    Value Drawing in my sketchbook                        

Next, I wet the paper and put in the first washes of the sky, the trees in the sun light and the stream.  I dropped in the color quickly while the paper was still wet in order to let the colors blend together.  I am careful to paint around the areas which I want to stay very light or white. 

First Wet on Wet Washes

Then I added some of the background trees on top of the light colored background.  I am having fun now exaggerating colors and letting colors blend while wet. The tree trunks have combinations of red, blues and browns.  I am working on the branch in front at the same time so that it relates color wise to the rest of the painting. 


Above, I have added more trees in the background and some shore details.  

Now, after spending a few hours shoveling a few feet of snow, it is time to get back to this painting and finish it.  I spend some time looking at the painting and thinking about what has to happen to make it work.  The stream needs to go all the way back.  Everything needs to get darker and some detail and subtle washes need to be added to the icy areas on the sides of the stream to distinguish them from the snow covered shore.  The background trees need just a little more definition. One challenge will be to maintain the color and brightness of the stream while adding some darker shadows. 

Here’s the finished painting.  I like the warm glow in the background trees and the colors in the stream. 
"Stream with Snowy Branch" 9x12 watercolor - will frame to 16x20
Hope you enjoyed this demonstration. To see more of my work go to my webpage or visit my blog 


  1. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing the inspiration and the process, and for the visuals along the way. Lovely.

  2. Thank you! Come back again, there will be more of this to come. Oy Vey, what a great blogger name! Are you an artist or what is your blog about?

  3. I am your friend from California; you know me from Syracuse University and you know my twin brother Bob who lives in your neck of the woods! Do you now know my real name?