Tiny Cabin Commission - Watercolor Process

Tiny Cabin Commission - Watercolor Process

I recently had the cool opportunity to create a some custom art for a couple in Hocking Hills who owns some tiny cabins that they rent out. It was kind of cool how it happened because I just sent the owner an email and asked if they'd be interested in hanging some of my prints in their cabins, but he ended up asking for a custom watercolor painting so that's what I ended up doing! It was much more exciting that I thought it was going to be when I first sent the email. This project gave me an excuse drive down to Hocking Hills - I'd never been there before despite living in Ohio for over a decade. It was really cool to see Old man's cave and the surrounding area, but honestly we didn't stay there long because there were just too many people. We ended up going to an area more south and hiking a bit there before camping for the night. In the morning we went to see the cabins and the surrounding landscape. It's a really cool place with several tiny cabins scattered throughout a big gorge. The one that I painted the view from was the newest - the honeymoon sweet. I decided to portray it in snow because I think that the landscape really shone the most in winter and that was the owners favorite season.

Well that's enough story, now you can see how the process went through my photos! I've added some captions along the way explaining some of my process as well. Hope you enjoy - leave a comment at the bottom if you did!

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.

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.

Here's where I started with a sketch.


I did a couple of sketches before deciding to trace directly onto the watercolor paper. I did this because of how many lines there were with the trees and I didn't want to spend an inordinate amount of time detailing those in freehand when my real focus was the painting. It was a challenge to trace because of the thickness of the watercolor paper - I used 300 lb. rather than 140 because of the size of the painting. I used a light table and laid a photo underneath to get the major parts of the composition on and then I sketched in the rest. Some people use a projector to do this step and I probably would have if I had one.

Here's part of my color palette. I enjoyed going out of my normal colors scheme and creating several nice new browns.

Here's the very first layers of watercolor! I worked in sections, making sure to wet a whole area of snow at a time so that I got nice, soft transitions of color in the snow.

 Here it is after a couple more very soft and light layers. I knew I wanted to keep the center very light as the focal point with the edges being more dark and less detailed.

It's kind of ethereal- looking at this point...

I really wanted to make sure the snow looked good - I'd never really painted snow before this. So I agonized over whether I was doing it right or not, but in the end it really just came down to creating soft shadows. Always painting wet on wet for the snow unless there was a very harsh shadow.

Here it is all done! I'll be framing it yet so keep a watch on my Instagram to see that. 

Want to get your own custom painting? Check out my Custom Art Page for the details and more examples of my work then send an email to keverharddesign@gmail.com with your request! You can also get prints of my other paintings in my shop here.

Thank you so much for reading!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.