WATERCOLOR LANDSCAPE PAINTINGS CONTAIN TWO
DISTINCT TYPES OF FEATURES
Linear features guide the
eye into around and out of the watercolor landscape . They also lead
the eye to the center of interest. Any continuous
unbroken line or shape can be considered a linear feature.
Roads, tracks etc..
Groups of buildings, trees, animals etc.
Edges of hills, clouds, shadows etc.
Spot features act as
punctuation marks throughout the watercolor. They create
the center of interest and are used to provide a balance
for it. Spot features can also be used to stop the eye running
out of the painting.
In this example the tree profiles in the foreground,
mountain edge and fence lines are linear
features and control the movement of the eye into and around the
painting. The buildings, distant trees and random abstract shapes
make up the spot features. They establish the center of
interest and provide a balance for it. The watercolor accents and strong
tonal contrast at the center of interest hold attention in that area
The hard edges where the land meet the
water, establish the horizontal and oblique linear features
that lead into, and frame the center of interest. Spot features
are provided by the trees, bushes and fence posts. Notice how
the foreground bush at the junction of the waters edge and
fence line, holds the eye from running down the oblique line
and out of the painting. The strong tonal contrast and
surrounding warm colors, create a focal point in the area of the large
tree. All the major linear features lead the eye to this
It helps to consider landscape subjects as
an arrangement of spot and linear features when working out
you composition. Shuffling these features around to form a
satisfactory composition, rather than simply copying what is
in front of you, will result in a much more satisfying
painting. Initial planning also ensures that the white areas,
so important in a watercolor landscape painting, can be placed
in the correct areas.
© JOHN LOVETT 1997
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