Beauty in a Pile of Rocks - Watercolor Process

Beauty in a Pile of Rocks - Watercolor Process

Here is another painting from along the Colorado Trail. This one is a much different scene, found just before we entered that open meadow area that I depicted in one of my previous paintings. I named it "Beauty in a Pile of Rocks" because the center of the composition is just a pile of rocks - which I think it really pretty. But what also really makes the scene shine to me is the background and the foreground. I really tried hard to keep the background less detailed, more fuzzy and soft. I am often tempted to make things more detailed in the background than they should be so I made a conscious effort to do better for this one. That really just meant stopping before I thought I was done and also smoothing things in the background. 

This was just a really fun painting that I enjoyed a lot because I let myself be loose and less exact throughout the process. I hope you enjoy seeing the process and reading my thoughts with the images below.

Before getting into the process photos I want to share with you a few of my favorite art supplies that I use for almost every painting. These are affiliate links and when you purchase through them I get a small commission - I really appreciate your support if you do decide to order something through my links!

Princeton Brushes - my most used are the 4 and 6 quill and the round size 4

Arches watercolor paper - currently the only watercolor paper I use and this 300lb sheet is almost the exact kind I used for this painting except I used cold press rather than hot. I just love how the 300lb lays so flat and you don't have to worry about buckling very much. It is a lot more expensive so I'll still get 140 sometimes.

My current two favorite watercolor brands:

Daniel Smith Watercolors


M. Graham Watercolors

M. Graham White Goauche - I use this paint at the end of paintings when I want to pull out some highlights. I love the consistency. I used it for this painting in the dead tree, the log and a couple other small branches.

Here's where I started with a sketch. A lot of times I sketch onto cheap paper then transfer it manually using a light table, but that requires drawing it twice and editing in between. I'm trying to stay more loose and quick right now so I just drew directly onto the paper. I didn't even bother erasing the pencil to be lighter and I really didn't mind - it didn't show through much at all.


You can see above my workspace on my keyboard is my little fox illustration which was my inspiration to keep things simple.

When painting the sky I don't worry about the blue going into the treetop area - in fact I wet that entire area with clean water before adding in the blue, so that there is a natural fade behind the trees. Since the blue is so light it won't be a problem behind the darker green trees.

The white gloppy stuff you see is masking liquid, applied to spots that I wanted to keep white - mostly small branches.

My cat buddy likes to hang out while I paint.

I always keep a paper towel and a piece of scrap watercolor paper nearby to brush off extra paint/water or test colors.

How things usually look when I'm painting.

My inclination was to make those trees more detailed, but I'm really glad that I left them softer. Holding back was good in this regard!

I love those fades from blue to brown that I get to do on rocks.

Making progress...and...boom! Done. I didn't get many good pictures between what's above and the finish line but if you want to see the whole time lapse you should check out my YouTube! The video should be up on 6/31/2021

Love that torn edge.

The original painting is available for purchase here on my webshop.

Prints should be up on 6/31 same day as the process video goes up. Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: Kimberlee Everhard is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

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