Tips for Painting Abstract Style Watercolor Landscape

As an artist, there is something truly captivating about the beauty of landscapes. It’s a challenging subject but well worth it when the painting is a success. I hope these tips for painting abstract watercolor landscapes help you create stunning scenery.

Abstract watercolor landscapes allow you to break free from the constraints of realistic representation and embrace your creativity. While it may seem to the viewer that it’s messy, or chaotic, and I get that. But know there’s a lot that goes into it that may surprise many.

Let’s have a look at the video first, and then we can dive a little deeper.

Exploring Different Techniques for Creating Abstract Effects

Abstract watercolor landscapes offer endless possibilities for creating unique and captivating effects. Let your imagination run wild as you explore different techniques to add depth, texture, and movement to your paintings. Here are a few techniques to consider:

Wet-on-wet Technique: This technique involves applying wet paint onto a wet surface, allowing the colors to blend and bleed into each other. It creates soft edges and beautiful gradients, perfect for capturing the ethereal quality of landscapes.

Splattering and Spraying: Using a toothbrush or a spray bottle, you can create a sense of movement and atmosphere in your abstract landscapes by splattering or spraying paint onto the paper. This technique adds a dynamic and spontaneous element to your paintings.

Explore Brushes: Probably my favorite of them all. Using unconventional brushes will certainly loosen things up and my favorite brush for this is the Dagger! Curious what this is? Check out the post on the best watercolor brushes.

Tips for Painting Abstract Style Watercolor Landscape
Tips for Painting Abstract Style Watercolor Landscape

Understanding the Basics of Watercolor Painting

Before diving into abstract painting techniques, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the basics of watercolors. Watercolor is a medium that requires a delicate touch and a good understanding of the properties of water and pigment. Familiarize yourself with the different types of watercolor paints, brushes, and papers available in the market. Experiment with different techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and dry-brushing to understand how they affect the outcome of your painting.

Learning about color theory and how colors interact with each other is also crucial in watercolor painting. Understanding the color wheel, complementary colors, and color temperature will help you create harmonious and visually appealing abstract landscapes. Take the time to practice and experiment with washes, glazing, and layering colors to build your confidence and develop a strong foundation.

Inspiration image
Inspiration image

Choosing the Right Supplies for Abstract Watercolor Landscapes

Having the right supplies is essential for any artistic endeavor. I’ve written an article for the best watercolor supplies, check it out. When it comes to abstract watercolor landscapes, there are a few key items you’ll need to ensure a successful painting. Start with high-quality watercolor paints that offer a wide range of colors and good pigmentation. Invest in a variety of brushes, including round brushes for fine details and larger flat brushes for washes and broad strokes.

The choice of paper is also crucial in watercolor painting. Look for watercolor paper that has a good weight and texture, as it will hold up better to the wetness of the paint. Cold-pressed or rough watercolor paper often works best for creating interesting textures and effects in abstract landscapes.

I’ve written an in-depth article on all the best watercolor supplies, have a look if you have any questions.

Don’t forget to have a palette for mixing your colors, a water container for rinsing your brushes, and a blotting cloth or paper towels to control the amount of water on your brushes. With the right supplies in hand, you’ll be well-equipped to dive into the world of abstract watercolor landscapes.

Planning Your Composition and Sketching the Landscape
Planning Your Composition and Sketching the Landscape

Planning Your Composition and Sketching the Landscape

Before jumping into painting, take the time to plan your composition and sketch out the landscape. While abstract watercolor landscapes are not meant to be realistic, a well-thought-out composition will help guide your painting and create a sense of harmony. Start by identifying the focal point of your landscape, the area that will draw the viewer’s attention. Consider the rule of thirds or other compositional techniques to create a visually pleasing arrangement.

Once you have a rough idea of your composition, sketch it out lightly on your watercolor paper. Keep your sketch loose and simple, focusing on the basic shapes and lines that make up the landscape. This step will help you visualize your painting and make adjustments before committing to the final piece.

Remember, abstract watercolor landscapes are about capturing the essence and mood of the scene rather than replicating every detail. Embrace the freedom to interpret and simplify the elements of nature to create a unique and expressive piece of art.

Layering watercolor using wet-in-dry technique
Layering watercolor using wet-in-dry technique

Layering and Blending Colors in Your Watercolor Painting

One of the beautiful aspects of watercolor painting is the ability to layer and blend colors to create depth and richness. In abstract watercolor landscapes, this technique plays a vital role in capturing the atmosphere and mood of the scene. Begin by applying light washes of color as your base layer, gradually building up the intensity and complexity of the colors.

Experiment with wet-on-dry and wet-on-wet techniques to achieve different effects. Wet-on-dry allows for more control and sharper edges, while wet-on-wet creates soft and diffused edges. As you layer colors, take the time to observe how they interact and blend on the paper. Allow the paint to dry between layers to prevent muddiness and ensure clarity in your painting.

Remember, watercolor painting is a delicate balance between control and spontaneity. Embrace the unexpected and let the water and pigment guide you. Allow the colors to mix and mingle on the paper, creating beautiful gradients and unexpected combinations. This is where the magic of watercolor truly shines.

Planning focal points
Planning focal points

Creating Focal Points and Adding Details

In abstract watercolor landscapes, creating focal points and adding details is where you can bring your painting to life. While the overall scene may be abstract, incorporating a few well-placed details can add interest and draw the viewer’s eye. Consider using darker colors or bolder brush strokes to create focal points that anchor your painting.

Adding details can be as simple as suggesting the shapes of trees, rocks, or buildings without fully defining them. Use thin brushes or even a toothpick to create fine lines and intricate patterns. Remember, the goal is not to replicate reality but to evoke a sense of place and mood.

Finishing Touches and Finalizing Your Watercolor Painting

As you near the completion of your abstract watercolor landscape, it’s time to add the finishing touches and finalize your painting. Step back and assess your work, looking for areas that may need adjustment or refinement. This is the time to make any necessary corrections or additions to bring your vision to life.

Pay attention to the overall balance and harmony of your painting. Look for areas that may be too busy or lacking in interest. Make adjustments by adding or subtracting elements, deepening colors, or softening edges. Don’t be afraid to take risks and push your painting further. Abstract watercolor landscapes are all about experimentation and embracing the unexpected.

Inspiration and Examples of Abstract Watercolor Landscapes

To further inspire your exploration of abstract watercolor landscapes, here are a few examples of artists who have mastered this art form:

  1. Alvaro Castagnet – Considered the best watercolor artist on the Planet by many. A highly skilled draftsman.
  2. John Tookey – Very successful watercolor artist and enthusiastic teacher.
  3. John Hoar – Loose landscape painter from the U.K.

Take the time to study these artists’ work and draw inspiration from their techniques and styles. Remember, every artist has their unique voice, and by exploring different approaches, you will find your own path in the world of abstract watercolor landscapes.


Mastering the art of abstract watercolor landscapes is a journey of exploration and self-expression. It’s a chance to break free from the confines of reality and create something truly unique. By understanding the basics of watercolor painting, choosing the right supplies, exploring various techniques, planning your composition, and adding details, you can embark on this artistic adventure with confidence and creativity.

Remember, practice is key. Allow yourself the freedom to experiment and make mistakes. Embrace the unpredictable nature of watercolor painting and let it guide your artistic journey. With time, patience, and dedication, you will develop your own style and create captivating abstract watercolor landscapes that reflect your artistic vision.