Welcome to Spain! What a beautiful country this is, and very different from France or Italy. Southern Spain has many small villages full of crisp white houses stacked up the hillsides. Painting these villages is not as daunting as you may think! Let’s paint one now…


WHITE BUILDINGS ARE PARTICULARLY STUNNING IN THE SUNSHINE. In the sunshine, of course, you have wonderful shadows on the buildings, which means you have a great opportunity for adding COLOR to your white painting. Yes, white is so much more than only white. This lesson is about filling your whites with color.

THE FIRST THING THAT SEEMS RATHER OBVIOUS is that the color of the sky will form the top edges of the buildings. So, begin by painting the sky and you’ll already have the buildings under way. Just don’t be wimpy with your color. Mix a lot of pigment into only a bit of water. (Here I used Ultramarine Blue). Then, when you have your mix ready, wet the entire sky until you see a shine. Pick up the rich sky mix and float it only the paper. Don’t play. Just touch it down and let it do its own thing. Let it dry.

THE WHITE OF THE BUILDINGS IS SIMPLY THE WHITE OF YOUR PAPER. You don’t paint anything that is being hit by the sunlight. There. You have a large portion of your buildings finished.

THE SHADOW KNOWS! Now you’ll need to make a plan. It’s usually easiest to lightly pencil in any cast shadows you may see. That way, when you begin to paint you can concentrate on getting the color down instead of worrying about where to put it.

That being said, let’s talk about the COLOR of shadows on a white surface. For many years, I painted all of my shadows gray. But they are so much more! There is something called ‘reflected light’ in those shadows…color that is reflected onto the white surface from objects in the vicinity. This can also be the sky – so why not use a bit of blue for some of your shadows? And why not use more than one blue? For example, you could use a bit of Ultramarine Blue and also a bit of Cobalt. From there you could go around the color wheel and stick in a bit of violet. If the area is surrounded by plants, sometimes I’ll even use a dab of green. You get the idea?

Now prepare all of the mixes you think you might want to use for your shadows. Mix little piles of each. It doesn’t matter if you end up not using them but you’ll be prepared just in case you do, because once you begin to paint the shadows you do not want to stop!

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SECRET TO PAINTING GREAT SHADOWS. – Let’s pause for a moment while you go outside to take a look around. Find a cast shadow somewhere. What do you notice? Or should I say, what do you not notice? There are absolutely no lines in a shadow. No lines. What does this mean to you as the artist painting them in watercolor? It means, dear one, that you must paint it in one attempt.

Yes, it sounds daunting, but it’s not that difficult. I’ll tell you how.

  1. Pencil in all of your shadows so you know where they are.
  2. If two shadows meet, consider them one shape. Yes, the two shadows will be painted as one so there is no line between them. Remember, we don’t want lines in our shadows.
  3. Get your color mixed before you begin.
  4. Don’t use a teeny, weeny brush. Use one big enough to carry some wash without running out right away.
  5. Pick up one color and begin to fill in the shadow (do not outline and fill in or that will make lines). As your brush begins to run out of this first color, pick up a bit of another and set your brush down where you left off with the previous color, continuing to fill in the shadow. TIP: always move forward, not ever going back over where you’ve already painted. That will make “blossoms”. Keep filling in the shadow(s) this same way until they’re all painted. Then let them dry completely.


See the photo just above. Note how the shadows are made up of several colors, gradually going from one color to the next. TIP: If you make a mistake, IGNORE IT and keep going. A “blossom” or water spot is okay! If you leave it alone when it happens, it will look fresh and clean and be okay. But if you play and try to fix it, the blossom will look like a mistake that you were trying to correct.


Now simply paint in the windows, the doors, the trees and flower pots. Paint them on dry paper with colors of your choosing.

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Here are a couple of other photos of paintings of the villages. I hope you enjoy.

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That’s our lesson for today. We’re currently having a bit of lunch on a beautiful veranda overlooking a turquoise lake backed by hills covered with olive trees. This evening I have a surprise for the group. Ssshhhh. We’re going up to the tip top of the little town, where we’re having drinks in the ‘blue square”. I took a look-see earlier this morning and they are going to love it! Here’s a sneak peek for you (she says as she looks carefully over her shoulder for spies).


Thank you all so much for reading. I will try to write more soon.

Kathie  xo

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