Postcards from friends are wonderful little treasures, and they’re even better when they’re homemade! This 30-minute class with Brian Ramsey will teach you how to paint your postcards, either from photos or from life, so that you can document all your adventures and send personalised postcards to your friends.

All you need are some paint colours and whatever brush and paper you feel comfortable with; I’m using the Etchr Watercolour 24 Half Pan Set and the Etchr Hot Press Sketchbook. Let’s begin!

Step 1: Outlines

We’re going to start with a waterproof pen and quickly sketch the outlines of the landscape elements. The fun part of this is texturing the cliffs with very light, fast pen strokes. Even when using a technical pen, you’ll get different types of lines depending on how quickly you draw and how hard you press the paper.

Step 2: Base Colours

Once the pen is dry, we can start painting! Take a pale green and make a thin layer over all the grass. Do the same thing with a cool blue for the water.

Don’t worry about any kind of shading or realistic texture right now. Brian sees himself less as a “painter” and more as someone who “tints” pictures; now, if you watch his demo you can see he is indeed a good painter because most of the time, less is more!

Step 3: Clouds

We’re going to use negative painting to make clouds. Negative painting is a technique where you paint the things around something to reveal its shape in the blank space.

Start by wetting the sky portion of the picture, then add your favourite blue and let it bloom into the wet page.

Once you finish the overall outline of the sky, you can splatter some more blue paint into it if you like.

Step 4: Grass

Go over the grass with a thin layer of yellow ochre, and leave the lightest areas alone. Already you will notice the green looking more realistic since natural greens lean more yellow or brown than green paint usually does.

Let’s add some darker green to make the grass look more realistic. Brian has a readymade Daniel Smith colour, but if you don’t have that colour, that’s okay! I mixed the green and yellow ochre I had before with some reddish-brown and some blue until it got more subdued and matched the colour Brian had.

Use this rich dark green colour on the sides of the cliffs and in the shadows. You can use the side of your brush to soak up excess paint and blend out the edges if you like.

Step 5: The House

This part is easy! All you need to do is mix some brown and ultramarine and paint the little house that you can see just the top of on the far side of the hill. Make sure the surrounding areas are completely dry first so the colour doesn't bleed!

Step 6: Brian’s Favourite Shading Colour

Brian likes to use this particular mixture for shadows, and to recreate it with Etchr watercolours, I used the dark green from before and added Ultramarine, Rouge Red, and a bit of Brick Brown. Your goal should be a sort of purplish-red wine colour. Use this colour to touch up anything you like, and add some contrast to the scene.

Step 7: Finishing Touches

Add the colour you mixed in the previous step to the far side of the lake so that it’s duller-looking and further back in the atmospheric perspective. I also touched up the foreground with the wine colour to tie the picture together.

When you make your postcards, you can change up the style to make them more personalised. Try coloured pencils on top of the watercolours, or use different coloured pens at the beginning.

What would it look like if you skipped the pens entirely, or used pencils instead? The possibilities are endless.

If you enjoyed Brian Ramsey’s painting lesson as much as I did, check out his 90-minute class on our website! Also, if you enjoy our content and would like more updates, join our email newsletter! Happy painting!

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator/writer living in the south Idaho hill country. She  loves to create cozy, homey pictures and populate them with funny little creatures  having surreal little adventures. Her biggest inspiration is the music and comedy that  came out of England in the late 60s. When she’s not busy making art, she goes for long  hikes, plays a few instruments, and collects vinyl.

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