Mark Mehaffey

Mark Mehaffey: Painting a Dramatic Landscape in Watercolor


Video Length: 1 Hour 40 Minutes
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Join Mark Mehaffey AWS, NWS, and enjoy a wonderful introduction to watercolor landscape painting. 

In a few hours even a beginner will achieve drama in their landscape watercolors. Mark Mehaffey would rather be too bold than too timid in his painting. This philosophy helps him push the limits of color and value in his dramatic watercolor landscapes. In this workshop, Mark focuses on the four basic elements of drama to create an electrifying mountain scene. You'll learn to harness contrast and color balance to make your pigments leap from the paper.

Mark contrasts dark, neutralized colors with bold spots of New Gamboge and Quinacridone rose to establish dramatic value changes and diverse color temperature. As he moves across the cloudy sky and craggy ridges, variation becomes a chief concern. He constantly changes the consistency and composition of his mixes to avoid flat, uniform shapes. As he moves into the foreground mountains, Mark forges a path for effective spacial movement another basic element of drama. He shades his large shapes with deep violets and neutralized yellows to pull them out from the background layers and guide the eye across the painting. He takes care in maintaining the intricate borders between mountains and allows for hard edges around his focal point to draw attention to distant trees. He coaxes an abstract but effective reflection out of his mountain lake, keeping key swatches covered with liquid mask to maintain contrast.

The sharp transitions between light and dark values establish his center of interest and increase drama. Mark caps the composition with a lone spruce tree, again protected by liquid mask. He revisits his goal of varied color temperature, floating dark greens over an underpainting of New Gamboge. He introduces new colors to draw attention to the sparse tree, adding a new layer of depth and movement. As he revisits the lake to soften some edges, Mark puts the finishing touches on a landscape that captures both the core elements of drama and the viewer's full attention. To charge your watercolor work with striking contrast, join Mark Mehaffey in Painting a Dramatic Landscape in Watercolor.


You will learn:

  • How to plan and paint a dramatic landscape by using a few strong shapes
  • Use of bold colors and a limited palette
  • How to mix and paint the glowing colors of a setting sun reflected on water
  • Get important tips on controlling moisture in your brush for successful wet into wet painting
  • How to get variety with a limited color palette
  • The role of silhouette and scale in landscapes
  • The importance of a value sketch.


Artist Statement:

I've been drawing and painting my whole life. I started painting with watercolor at the age of 10 and never stopped. My parents and my early teachers encouraged me to paint, I suspect to keep me out of trouble. It worked….more or less.

Some of my earliest memories include trying to match the colors I saw while using a child’s set of watercolors. Hours were spent in this endeavor. After 55 years of painting I’m now more inclined to paint the colors I feel than the colors I see. Paintings always take on a life of their own. Sometimes a work requires a studied design approach, making a plan and following that plan, at other times a more intuitive visceral approach is called for. I let the idea and content of my work dictate the materials and techniques used….not the other way around. Other ideas dictate an exploration of surface and textures, relying on the initial concept and intuition to bring the work to a conclusion.

Above all I value creativity and honesty. And although I follow many paths and speak with more than one voice, I am on my own journey. I have two wishes…one is to live a few more hundred years, for I shall never have enough time to paint all the ideas in my head. Probably won't see that wish granted. That second wish? That somewhere along my journey I will communicate with fellow travelers who will see something of what I see and feel something of what I feel.


Customer Reviews

Based on 1 review
Great book

Mehaffey is a great artist and has much to share. Worth every penny!