Lighthouse – Scraping Rocks and More Easy Watercolor Techniques

Lighthouse watercolor painting tutorial by Deb Watson

Lighthouses are an easy and popular subject for watercolor and this tutorial will give you an introduction to many basic painting techniques – scraping rocks, sponging foliage, smooth background washes and lifting with Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.

Downloads for Easy Watercolor Lighthouse

Suggested Paint Colors for Lighthouse/Scraping Rocks

  • Blue – Ultramarine and/or Cobalt Blue
  • Browns – any browns – best is Burnt Sienna or Umber
  • Red – any red
  • Black – mix dark blue + brown or use a tube black
  • Gray – mix blue + brown or use a tube gray
  • Light Green – mix blue + yellow or green gold
  • Dark Green – mix dark blue + green gold or Perylene green
Lighthouse reference photo for watercolor tutorial Lighthouse

Step by Step Painting Instructions for Lighthouse with Easy Watercolor Techniques

Step 1 – Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Cold pressed paper is recommended for the best results – Arches, Strathmore or Kilimanjaro.

Step 2 – How to scrape watercolor rocks for easy painting realism.

Best colors – Ultramarine or Cobalt Blue, Burnt Sienna or Umber.

Scrapers – credit card cut in half diagonally, purchased kitchen or watercolor scraper, palette knife, brush handle with flat end, razor blade – any flat, stiff object can be used for scraping.

Paint on concentrated washes of your colors – don’t overmix, just lay the colors on dry paper with enough moisture that they blend a bit.

Scraping – Press firmly down with your scraping edge and continue pressing down HARD and you pull the scraper across the wet surface to pull the paint out and rough up the paper. Only scrape once or maybe twice on an area.

Step 3 – Add shading to the lighthouse.

Gray shading on Lighthouse for watercolor tutorial Lighthouse

Mix a puddle of gray with blue + brown.

Wet the lighthouse with clean water.

Paint the shadow on the left side. Also paint the little house.

Dry well.

Step 4 – How to Paint a Smooth Wash in Watercolor for the Sky.

For more info on how to paint a graded wash click here.

NOTE – Your sky can be darker or lighter – whatever YOU like is best!

Watercolor lighthouse painting in progress for tutorial Lighthouse

Mix a big puddle of dark blue and a smaller puddle of lighter blue with lots of paint (as it gets diluted again on the wet paper and you don’t want it to fade out.)

Wet the sky area around the lighthouse with clean water. Use a big wash brush. If the paper doesn’t drip when you hold it up, it’s not wet enough. You want to get enough water on it that it is evenly damp, so wet well and hold it up until it quits dripping.

Lay the color on where you want it with the least amount of brushstrokes – dark on the top 2/3 and lighter at the bottom.

Tilt to mix – Pick up your painting and tilt it this way and that to let gravity do the blending. If the paint doesn’t move, you can carefully spray it with a misting bottle but don’t get any on the lighthouse.

Step 5 – How to Sponge on Trees and Shrubs in Watercolor

(More on Sponging)

Mix a small puddle of light and dark green.

Sponge/Paint – Use a small piece of natural sponge to apply light green, then add a few darker green areas with your sponge or brush.

Step 6 – How to Paint the Ocean with Watercolor

Use the light and dark blue puddles to paint your ocean – light at the top and dark at the bottom. Use a small brush and horizontal brush strokes – as many as you like, to indicate waves.

Step 7 – Painting a Lighthouse in Watercolor

Top – The light area is gold (yellow + brown) or yellow with white in the middle. The roof and trim are black or dark red (red + black), as is the roof of the small house.

Stripes – dark red on the right and lighter red on the right. Add water for lighter red or dab with a paper towel or use a thirsty brush to lift up color.

Step 8 – Scraping Rocks in Watercolor Part 2 – Adding Shadows

To add more definition to scraped rocks, you can add shading to the daker sides. For soft shadow edges, wet each rock and paint the shadows on wet on wet.

Step 9 – How to Lift Rays of Light and Clouds in Watercolor

To lift straight lines – lay a straight piece of paper across where you want the lines and lift in straight line wipes.

To lift with soft edges – just go for it!

Lifting – Wet a small piece of Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser and squeeze out all the excess water. Gently wipe the area you want to lift. When the sponge gets coated with paint, turn to a clean side or rinse out the color.

Lifting clouds with Mr. Clean – use the sponge in circular wipes to create a cloud like shape.

Lighthouse watercolor painting tutorial by Deb Watson

Step 10 – Finishing details for Lighthouse with Easy Watercolor Techniques.

Birds – Use gray paint to add tiny seagulls.

Railing and Windows – use a pen or small brush to add black or white railing and windows to the lighthouse.

No great artist ever sees things exactly as they are - if he did, he would cease to be an artist - Oscar Wilde