Painting The Fall Landscape In Watercolor

Four Online Classes And Outside Class Work

Thursdays, September 24 – October 15, 2020 – 6  to 8 pm Eastern Time

Fee $175

This class covers the important factors that make the fall landscape come to life. 

The Fall Landscape

The fall landscape is dramatically different from every other season.  Surprisingly, that drama can be captured by paying attention to only a few things:  Color, especially the contrasts of cool against warm, and bright against neutral; Light, since the landscape receives more and more sunlight, even though the sun is rapidly weakening; Trees, because they gradually reveal their bones.

September 24th, 2020  – Light, Color and Contrast: Expression of the Fall Landscape

This class focuses on capturing the look of fall and the effect of bright, warm light on the landscape. The full effect is best expressed with the right kind of contrasts.  We’ll explore those in the pre-class work and create a brilliant landscape in our class project.

This week we’ll do some color mixing and work on painting the portrait of a tree that has lost part of its leaves.

One of the things we’ll be doing a lot is creating fluid washes that will allow color to mix and mingle – sometimes in subtle, other times in dramatic ways.  It is essential to have a really good handle on the wet-in-wet wash technique.  So, first this week is to practice the wet-in-wet painting techniquethis lesson will step you through.

The fall landscape has a lot of bright, warm color. The drama comes from the  contrast of those bright warms with cool neutrals.  I’m betting your palette is full of warm colors – reds, yellows and oranges – as well as blues and violets.  The next thing to do is mix every red and orange with every blue and violet on your palette (not yellows since they’ll make greens).  You are likely to be surprised at some of the beautiful netural mixtures.  These will be important for infusing drama into fall landscape paintings.  Download this mixing chart and sheet of sample mixes.  Copy the mixing chart onto watercolor paper – depending on the number of colors, you may need more than one sheet.  Create color mixtures/combinations as described above, using the sample sheet as a guide.

Lastly, paint a fall tree that has lost part of it’s leaves.  Download this drawing layout for a single fall tree.


In Class

Bring your pre-class work to class.  We’ll review and go over any questions.

We’ll be painting this together in class.

It’s not a complex scene, so you can draw it freehand, or download a drawing layout here.

Notice the many places where different colors are merging and mingling together.  It looks great in a painting, but is also very typical of the fall landscape. The technique is really nothing more than wet-in-wet painting, but does take some getting used to.  We’ll practice together during class.

October 1, 2020  –  A Study In Contrast

This week we work on the power of contrasts of value and bright vs dark (technically this is know as contrast of CHROMA).  Also continue working with loose, fluid washes that will allow subtle mingling of color – this is one of the easiest things to do to improve you paintings of any season!

Download the class painting project layout and the pre-class exercise.

For the pre-class exercise have your neutral color mixtures from last week handy. In this exercise, you’ll practice placing neutral colors next to bright colors. The effect should ‘turn on the lights’!

  1. Make at least several copies of the thumbnail on watercolor paper.
  2. Paint these small studies with the techniques from last weeks class – lots of water and color mingling.
  3. Start with the background and work your way forward – place bright warm colors, then mingle cool darks
  4. Allow washes to flow over different separate washes and don’t worry about details!
  5. Once you’ve covered basically the whole page – background, middle ground, foreground – dry it.
  6. At this point you probably have puddles of neutral or neutralized color on you palette (John Pike called these “Palette Gray”). You’ll use these to highlight and brighten the warm lights.
  7. On the dried paper, find a place you want to show bright light. Find an object or shape that adjoins it – place a neutral color there.
  8. Find a few other places and do the same thing.
  9. Do several versions.

Also copy the class painting project layout onto watercolor paper and bring it to class along with your thumbnail color studies.

In Class:

We’ll review the pre-class work, answer and answer questions.  I’ll do a quick demo about using shadows to reveal contour and direction on the ground plane.  We’ll also do this class project.

West Arlington Farm - watercolor plein air landscape painting by Tony Conner


October 8, 2020  –  Peak Foliage

This is the week to capture the excitement of peak foliage.  It is a riot of color, but it is also important to create focus and dimension.

Pre-Class work:

This week it’s just one video lesson to follow.  Download and transfer the drawing layout to watercolor paper. Follow along the video lesson. The difficult thing about large clusters of fall foliage is in showing light and form. This lesson talks about the considerations and shows the techniques needed.

In Class

We’ll again review the pre-class assignments and jump into this fairly complex painting of deep woods at peak foliage. Download this drawing layout and transfer to watercolor paper.

October 15, 2020  –  Late Fall

This week we’ll focus on the late fall scene. Many folks find this time less interesting to look at and much less interesting to paint because it lacks the bright color from peak season.

We’ll focus on painting bare or nearly bare trees. During our class project, we’ll also pay attention on ways to get interest in large and more or less empty ground planes.

Pre-Class Work

Spend time studying bare or nearly bare trees.  If the leaves happen to be down where you are, it is a good idea to sketch out some bare trees from direct observation.  The base trunk is that part of the trunk that comes out of the ground and rises up to where the first branches emerge.   Pay attention to the proportion of this to the overall height and width of the tree. One of the most common flaws when painting trees is in these proportions – often they are too short for the trunk, too narrow for the trunk or both.

You can also work from these two samples – download drawing layouts of a maple tree and and oak tree.  Use the video below as a guide for the tree work.

In Class

Download the drawing layout and transfer to watercolor paper.  In class, we’ll review the homework and paint this late fall scene together.  You can also download a sample finished image of the class project.ngst the excitement.


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.


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.

Download class info sheet here.

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