Do you know the three main areas and their primary purpose?

In this video demonstration you will learn advanced watercolor landscape painting techniques that cover the three main areas of your subject. Many artists overcomplicate their landscape and cityscape subjects by not understanding how to develop a proper focal point.

Well that and they get too attached to the images and jam every single detail into their art. You see what works in real life often, if rarely, doesn't translate when making art.

What are the three main areas?

Background - this is a supporting cast of shapes that are there to do one job - help frame the focal point. Since we are working with a cityscape image in the demo let's take a look at how that would translate in real life.

Firstly, it's busy! There are thousands of shapes, colors and details. They can range from windows, cars, buildings, telephone poles and so on.

But for a seasoned artist all of this is unnecessary and automatically reduced to one, or two main shapes and very few details.

Why? Because it's a distraction from what's important and that's the focal point. If you clutter the background you have essentially ruined your art. The chances of your painting having a strong focal point is diminished.

Middle ground - this is the heart of a painting and often times will include the focal point. A quality middle ground will also contain some dominant, or more saturated, hues.

A quality design typically includes the focal point in this area because it simply make sense. It's framed nicely by the background and rests in an area of the painting that doesn't seem cramped.

If you place a focal point too high, or low, within the frame it can lead the viewer out of the image. Where as a focal point situated away from the edges, including top and bottom, tends to keep the viewers attention longer.

Foreground - this is a lead-in! That's all. If it's any more than that you will risk cluttering the design.

When the painting becomes too busy it loses impact. Why? Because the viewer has no idea where to go! Every area of the painting is clamoring for attention.


When approaching your inspiration image, or scene, always put design first. Avoid looking at your subjects as literal objects and instead treat them as shapes. This is seeing like an artist!

Amateurs paint what they see. Artists know that this is a trap. They instead reduce scenes and objects into basic shapes. And more importantly understand the three main areas.

If you do this you will eliminate a lot of details and get to the heart of the painting faster. And that's a strong focal point that's framed beautifully with a simplistic background and a minimalistic foreground that leads the eye into the scene.

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Advanced Watercolor Landscape Painting Techniques Demo Image