I  painted this  watercolour painting project back in September 2012, but with everything that’s been going on over the last 18 months I’ve only just had the chance to post it to my blog. It’s from David Bellamy’s watercolour book Mountains and Moorlands, published by Search Press. David’s book is aimed at those who already have some experience painting watercolours, although much of the content will also be of interest and value to beginners and more experienced artists alike. The book contains four great demonstrations, over 120 step-by-step photographs and it is packed cover to cover with inspiring, original watercolour paintings, sketches, and practical advice by David Bellamy.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous project I really admire David Bellamy‘s style, and one day, after I’ve picked up enough of his techniques I should be able to comfortably adopt elements of his style into my own.

Watercolour Tuition

Mountains From The Valley Watercolour Stage 1

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I know this may sound strange, but the reason I chose the Mountains From The Valley exercise was because it teaches you about painting without too much detail. The painting is of a series of snow-capped ridges, nestled under a pink sky, and there are conifers everywhere poking out through  the mists in the valleys. Not only that, there’s also rock faces, and a lake in which everything is reflected. I have to admire how David can take such a complex scene and turn it into something  simple, and make it look so grand and majestic, yet peaceful.

This project used a palette of 8 colours

  • Cobalt Blue
  • Perm. Alizarin Crimson
  • Cadmium Red
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Raw Umber
  • New Gamboge
  • Cadmium Orange
  • Burnt Umber

Mountains and Moorlands in Watercolour by David Bellamy

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Mountains and Moorlands in Watercolour by David Bellamy

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The stages

The demonstration in the book was broken down into twenty-five easy-to-follow stages, which began with roughly sketching the outline to my watercolour paper, then laying down several washes of cobalt blue and alizarin crimson for the sky. All of the washes were very thin, just suggesting the colours. The next stages detailed David’s techniques for adding the misty effects to the mountains and valley.

Mountains From The Valley Watercolour Stage 2

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Painting in the details of the crags  was fun because the mountains started to take on shape and form. Everything so far had been in blues, reds, and yellow ochre so it was a nice change to get stuck into the conifers in the middle distance with a splash of green and raw umber. Next I worked on strengthening the distant shore-line and painting the water in the lake, beginning with a dry-brush technique to suggest sparkles on the distant water, then adding slightly variegated cobalt blue wash up to the foreground. While I was letting the foreground dry I followed David’s instructions for his sponging techniques on the valleys in order to push the ridges further into the distance. Once I had completed that stage, I painted the nearest conifers and rock faces with deeper, stronger colours to bring them well into the foreground. The final stages of the painting was to finish off the reflections and pick out some of the details under and around the conifers using David’s negative painting techniques.

What I learned

I really loved painting this scene, because David is so good at explaining how things work, not only that, he backs everything up with simple examples that are peppered throughout the whole book. For example, the way he layered the washes in the sky in several stages, taking advantage of wet-into-wet and wet-on-dry opportunities to get the required effects.


Painting this watercolour was almost like allowing your brush dance a ballet. David never ceases to amaze me with his knowledge and know-how, his use of lost-and-found, his negative painting techniques not to mention his use of a sponge to create the atmospheric misty effects. Gently  gently – the art of finesse to create art! Thank you David, this was an awesome lesson.

The final result

Watercolour Painting - Mountains From The Valley

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My only disappointment was my over eager, clumsy attempt at scratching out a singe ripple across the middle of the lake with a scalpel. In David’s finished watercolour it’s a gentle straight line that hints at a slight breeze, gently brushing across the surface of the water. In mine it looks like the cat had a fight with it! I should have remembered the “Gently gently” finesse lesson at the very end too! However, I’m really grateful for that lesson, I’ll certainly take more care next time. All in all though, I think the final painting turned out quite well. what do you think? Please share your feedback with us in the comments below.

Links to David’s Mountains & Moorlands Watercolour book

[table id=1 filter=”mountains and moorlands” hide_columns=”4,5″ show_rows=”1,2,3,6″ responsive=”all” /] My watercolour book library here>

Next steps

If you’ve painted this  David Bellamy Mountains From The Valley watercolour demonstration yourself, or would like to share your feedback with us then please do so using the comments below. Thank you!