Old scenic cottage:Line and wash tutorial

Old Stone Cottage: Line And Wash Watercolor Tutorial

Inks and watercolors have been used together for a long time. The technique of using a pen with black ink and painting over the lines with watercolor washes is known as “Line and wash”. In this example of a line and wash painting of a scenic old stone cottage, I’m going to use a traditional dip pen with a waterproof black acrylic ink to first lay down a rough outline drawing. Then, once the ink is dry, I will show you how to add color and texture with some loose watercolor washes.

Old Stone Cottage: Reference Photo

The photo below was taken in the picturesque village of Bucks Mills, North Devon. The old stone cottage known as “The Cabin” was the summer home of the artists Mary Stella Edwards and Judith Ackland until the 1970s. The cottage has been preserved in its original state and is now owned by the National Trust. It is still in occasional use as an artist’s retreat.

Old Cottage reference photo for line and wash tutorial

Materials List


Ultramarine Blue: Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith

Prussian Blue: Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith
Cerulean Blue: Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith
New Gamboge: Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith
Burnt Sienna: Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith

Burnt Umber : Winsor & Newton | Daniel Smith


Daler Rowney Black Acrylic Ink Buy from Amazon


Princeton No.2 Round Brush Buy From Amazon
Winsor & Newton Series 150 Bamboo Round #6 Buy From Amazon


Tachikawa Dip Pen Holder Buy From Amazon
Brause Steno Pen Nibs Buy From Amazon


Arches Watercolor Paper Block, Cold Press, 9″ x 12″, 140 pound Buy from Amazon


Adjustable desktop easel Buy From Amazon
Misting spray bottle Buy from Amazon
Easy release painters masking tape Buy from Amazon

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Old Stone Cottage: Step By Step Tutorial

For this painting, I had a sheet of Arches Cold pressed paper resting at an angle on a sheet of stiff cardboard. I used the large thick backing card from an old watercolor pad. The ink I’m using is Black Acrylic ink by Daler Rowney. This is a waterproof ink that can be painted over and won’t bleed or run once it has dried.

How To Paint An Old Stone Cottage In Line And Wash

Total Time: 45 minutes

Step 1: Sketching & Preparation

I had very lightly sketched the outline of the old cottage and it’s surrounding buildings and scenery. Because of the angle I took the photo from, the old cottage needs to be drawn in perspective. This isn’t a difficult skill to learn but it’s an important detail to get right. I have a tutorial on how to do draw buildings in perspective, which I have linked to at the end of this post.

Dip your pen nib in the ink, ensuring that any excess ink goes back into the bottle. It’s useful to have a few tissues on hand just in case of spills and drops.

Step 2: Starting The Ink Drawing

I would suggest that you start by drawing the main subject, i.e. the cottage and work your way outwards from there in order of importance. Don’t grip the pen too tightly. Relax your arm and don’t stress if your line wobbles a bit. Allowing your line to vary a bit will create a nice organic feel to your drawing.

I’ve used a slightly thicker line around the cottage to indicate that it’s the main focus. Notice too that I’ve used a thicker line to indicate shadows in areas such as the underside of the roof, and on the other edges that face away from the light on the windows and the door.

Step 3: Creating An Organic Border

When the lines of the cottage have been established, I start to add the surrounding buildings and foliage. In the image above I’m starting to add some of the leaves and foreground foliage. I’m not going to have clearly defined rigidly lined border around this painting. Rather, I will leave the composition open and loose. I want the brambles and Ivy in the foreground and the clouds in the sky to create an organic looking “Frame” around the main focus of the cottage.

Step 4: Initial Watercolor Washes

I’ve established the main elements of the scene with my loose pen drawing. As soon as the ink is dry we can start to add some watercolor washes. Think about where the light is coming from and how it will affect your tonal values rather than approaching this like a coloring page. In this case the light is coming from the left and hitting the side of the cottage making it lighter than the side which is facing towards us.

I’ve painted loose washes of Burnt Sienna and Cerulean Blue in the sky and clouds, and a variegated wash of Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna and Burnt Umber on the cottage.

For the buildings behind the cottage I’ve contrasted them in cooler darker colors by making them a cool grey mixed from Ultramarine Blue and a little Burnt Umber.

Step 5: Painting The Trees And Foliage

Allow the initial wash to dry, so that the next wash doesn’t bleed into it. I mixed a range of natural looking greens from New Gamboge, Ultramarine and Prussian Blue. These three colors mixed in various strengths and quantities will allow you to make everything from a pale lime green to a dark, almost black green. Indicate areas of dryer grass by dropping in Burnt Umber.

In the pic above, I’m dropping in some darker green to the wet wash to indicate the cast shadows around the base of the cottage.

Step 6: Blending Out The Edges

I’d like my wash to fade away gradually in the foreground, so to stop it forming a hard edge, I’m spraying a little clean water from my spray bottle and allowing it to run. You can use a tissue to mop up any excessive drips and tilt the painting to control the flow to a degree.

Step 7: Final Touches

Up until this point I’ve only been using a natural haired Bamboo brush, as I wanted to keep my brushstrokes looking loose and fresh. Here, I’ve switched to a No.2 round brush in order to add the last small details such as the green roof the door and the charming brickwork.

Watch The Video

Useful Links

How To Use Ink And Watercolor: Everything You Need To Know

Paint Super Simple Buildings In Watercolor

How To Mix Perfect Greens In Watercolor

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