Walking on the Burke-Gilman Trail yesterday, a young birch (?) tree caught my eye. I snapped a quick photo because stopping to sketch on a busy biking route is not particularly relaxing. Later in the Studio I sketched from the photo and painted. Too simple? Maybe. But definitely not too busy; and sometimes the fewer shapes in a composition, the better.

For this watercolor sketch, using a large flat brush I simply dropped in dilute cerulean blue for a sky, then painted around the tree shape with thick dark ultramarine blue, burnt sienna, sepia, cerulean blue, and the smallest touch of alizarin crimson. I did not mix the colors on the palette because that would have resulted in a monochromatic background. I let the colors mix on the paper so that there was some variation in the background. How to mix on the paper? It can be messy, but pick up the colors individually or in twos onto your brush from the palette wells, drop onto the paper, then clean/dry the brush, and repeat until the background is covered with varying colors and tones.