Landscape Painting Watercolor Class

Eight Classes With Outside Class Work

Sundays, January 10 – February 28, 2021 – 1 to 3 pm Eastern Time

Learn basic ideas and techniques that make great landcape paintings.

Landscape Painting In Watercolor

Make your landscape (and seascape) paintings “look right”.  This class shows you how to use simple ideas – space, perspective and composition – to create beautiful, convincing landscape paintings in watercolor. 

The class is eight weeks long.  Each week there will be pre-class assignments supported by downloadable info sheets and video tutorials.  Some pre-class work will be submitted for review by the instructor prior to class. Other assignments will be reviewed in class.

Class Conducted On ZOOM

The online class is conducted via ZOOM videoconference service.  ZOOM link for the class is sent upon registration and again in a weekly class email.

Supplies and Materials

Download a comprehensive suggested watercolor materials list. Use it as a guide – no need to purchase everything on the list. Working with what you are used to will help your learning.  I’ll make suggestions for good supplementary materials during class.


Landscape and seascape paintings are two-dimensional representations of three-dimensional scenes. Since we don’t have that critical third dimension to work with, our work must provide other visual cues for the viewer to make sense of space and distance.  This week, we focus on dividing our two-dimensional picture plane into three areas that represent areas of three-dimensional space and distance.

Line layout of a country scene for watercolor painting

Download class Info with pre-class work and in-class assignments here

No doubt you have noticed the effects of space and distance on the objects in your painting.  Quite simply, those objects that are farther away seem to be smaller than those that are nearer.  Linear Perspective is a system developed to accurately duplicate the effect of three-dimensional distance on objects placed in our two-dimensional picture plane.

You have likely also noticed the effect of distance on color and value which is caused by light rays passing through the microscopic elements and particles that make up our atmosphere.

Aerial Perspective (or Atmospheric Perspective) is the term used to describe this effect. Aerial Perspective is not so much a system, like Linear Perspective, but a set of simple guidelines that help us create the effect in our paintings.

Understanding Linear Perspective will support the illusion of distance in your underlying drawing. Aerial Perspective will help when you are painting and making choices about color and value.

We’ll focus on getting a handle on both this week.

Download Class Info Sheet with Pre-Class and In Class Assignments here

Week 3 – Basic Composition

In week one, we explored the idea of dividing our 2D picture plane into three Planes of Space.

It is easy to develop strong, dynamic compositions, by expanding this idea a bit further using a simple approach to value composition.

The pre-class work teaches and practices a simple process for creating an abstract composition from a group of simple non-objective shapes.

This process will also begin to change your impulse toward literalism.  The abstraction process is easy – the mental challenge is not.  The work this week is designed to help break down the mental obstacles that hinder our ability to design space, rather than to re-create reality.

It’s all abstraction!

Our task as artists is to create a dynamic design in our picture plane – regardless of subject matter. As you know, our watercolor paintings usually begin with a pencil drawing. The drawing maps out the shapes of the objects and defines edge boundaries and overlaps.

We all have a strong impulse to draw each object completely – often with in great detail. This method creates many recognizable individual objects that may represent reality. But, it is also likely to break the picture plane into smaller and smaller disconnected bits, making it much less likely to result in a strong two-dimensional design.

The better alternative is to actively design large abstract shapes which are essentially create by merging the shapes of individual objects and elements.

Planes of Space = Value Compostion

As an introduction, we can return to the idea of dividing our picture plane into three general planes of spaceforeground, middle-ground and background.

Class Info Sheet Includes Pre-Class and Inc Class Info. Download here.


Up to this point, we’ve covered two important ideas that will provide a strong design foundation in your paintings.

The first was the of dividing our 2D picture plane into three Planes of Space.

The second was the addition of deliberately applying a distinct value to each plane of space – one light, one mid-value, one dark.

Although the mental switch is challenging, these two ideas alone will change your approach to painting and enhance your creativity.

Download Class Info Sheet

This class started with the idea that representational paintings are really two-dimensional designs that include enough visual information to represent a three-dimensional scene.  That idea led us into a simple process for composing our picture planes starting with 2D shapes that represent 3D planes of space and then adding different values to create a strong underlying structure to our work. 

Our paintings, which represent three-dimensional space, must be populated with three-dimensional objects. 

Sometimes it can be difficult to draw complex three-dimensional objects. It is made easier by starting with simple shapes.

Download Class Info Sheet

Showing light and form requires a combination of well constructed shapes and well-placed value.  We’ll continue to work with simple shapes from Week 5, and apply a simple way to place value to show light and give the illusion of three-dimensional shape.

Download Class Info Sheet

Download In Class Info Sheet


We’ve covered a lot in six weeks. This week and next week focuses on putting the composition process into practice.  We’ll also look at textures and edges and how they can be used to show off individual objects and to support the composition. 

Textures and Edges

At its simplest, painting is a matter of creating two-dimensional shapes and adding color and value. Making these shapes visually representative of real three-dimensional objects requires providing the viewer with visual cues to help them make sense of the scene and the objects in it.

These cues can be thought of as symbols that represent some aspect of a real object.  For instance, an oblong oval with nubs at each end and painted yellow is likely to be interpreted as a lemon.  The same shape painted green is likely to be interpreted as a lime.  In this case both shape and color help us understand the object.

One category of symbol is that of texture. Texture is both a sensation of touch and sight.  We can look at the surface of an object and have a good idea how it would feel – be it smooth, soft or rough.  All real objects have an internal and external texture.  The internal texture is what we sense on the surfaces of the object.  The external texture is essentially the edge texture and is often what we sense visually.

Download Class Info Sheet 

Pre-Class Info

This week we’ll get a start on consolidating and incorporating class info into our thinking and process.

One of the things to do is to finish up the cityscape project we have been working on for the past two weeks.  

This week, send your finished cityscape painting.

Also, send the one value sketch and color study used as the basis for your finished painting, which you should also send.

Also send any questions and a note on any topic we covered that you’d like more explanation or clarification.


This week’s class is really meant for review of our work over these past weeks.  It will mostly be demos and explanations to answer your questions.

Class Info Sheet



Questions About the Class?

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About The Instructor

Tony Conner is an accomplished watercolorist and and experienced instructor. His  energetic approach to teaching and enthusiasm for the watercolor medium are combined to create classes that are both fun and informative.  He excels at providing information and insights to individual students – meeting them where they are and helping them get to where they want to go.

Professional Memberships

  • Signature Member - New England Watercolor Society
  • Signature Member - Vermont Watercolor Societies
  • Artist Member - Salmagundi Club
  • Artist Member - North Shore Arts Association

Tony works from his studio in Bennington, Vermont.

What Other Students Say

I've take several workshops, some taught by prominent and well-known artists. Tony's was, by far, the best in it's quality, approach and teaching style. The small class formate facilitated learning.” - Jane C. , Setauket, NY

Of all the instructors I have seen, you are the most informative. Your method of teaching is so easy to follow and absorb. I wish I lived close enough to attend your classes. You are also a very patient, approachable person . All excellent, Tony!” - Catherine M. , Ontario, CN

I have learned more in this two-day workshop, than in all other watercolor classes I’ve taken” - Rita S. , MA

" Thought there was a perfect balance between theory & practice.  The points you wanted to stress were given clearly & concisely.  You are so passionate about your work.  I have come home energized & enthusiastic - which is exactly what I wanted from the workshop.  " - S. H., Saline, MI

"I've taken several watercolor workshops, some taught by prominent and well known artists. Tony's workshop was by far the best in its quality, approach, and teaching style. The small class format facilitated learning." - J. C., Setauket, NY

" Tony is a wonderful, knowledgeable teacher who shares with warmth and humor" - J. M, Astoria, NY

" Overall, the three days were amazing. I find myself looking at everything in terms of value. " - A. C., Bloomfield, NJ

"...but, Tony Conner has thought of it all, organized it perfectly, and made it fun and inspiring." - G. B., New York, NY