Cindy Briggs article for DANIEL SMITH, Watercolor Painting in Provence, Step by Step Window with Flowers

Discover how you can jazz up your color with an unexpected mix of warm and cool colors. In photos and video you can see how I take this Window in La Baux, France and creates my own version in my traveling Watercolor Sketchbook with flowing lines and colors.

Why this subject?

I’m drawn to the windows and doors, flowers and stonework of places like Provence and Tuscany. The effort that someone puts into making their home or business look inviting, invites me to paint it. Over time, stonework and flowers have become favorites subjects, how to suggest without overdoing it is always a fun challenge.

When DANIEL SMITH sent me these new colors for my artist in residence in Provence (in 2017 & 2018), I found myself painting with the fresh new selection all over the countryside. During a stormy day, this painting was filmed in my L’Isle sur la Sorge studio. I had photographed the window in Le Baux during one of my many excursions around Provence.

Le Baux reference photo, Cindy Briggs
1. Le Baux reference photo

1. Planning Stage:

I had this wonderful new selection of DANIEL SMITH Watercolor and decided this wall and window would be a great subject to show you how I use unexpected colors to jazz up the scene.  I also added overflowing flowers to the pot on the window sill as my focal point and to have fun with my new Wisteria, Lavender and Quinacridone Lilac Watercolors from DANIEL SMITH.

Contour line drawing, Cindy Briggs
2. Contour line drawing

2. Draw with flowing lines:

In my 140lb watercolor sketchbook I drew with a continuous contour line for more organic free flowing lines and shapes. I use a mechanical pencil and keep my lines light. When suggesting overflowing flowers in the pot, I only drew the outer shape of the flowers.
I am painting in a 9×12 Watercolor Sketchbook with 140lb cold press paper using a Watercolor Quill Brush Size 4. My big palette has 33 wells.

First wash of color, both mixed and mingled, Cindy Briggs
3. First wash of color, both mixed and mingled

3. First Wash of Mixed and Mingled Colors on Dry Paper:

I like to start with mixed and mingled colors wet-on-dry paper for an underwash, often using the side of my brush for larger brush strokes and letting them mix and mingle on the page – I place a variety of mostly warm colors and a few cool colors randomly next to each other and let them mingle. I intentionally left an unfinished painterly edge and saved the white where the flowers will be for pure color and sparkle. The colors used here are:

Warm Colors:

Cool Colors:

Start with colorful flowers, Cindy Briggs
4. Start with colorful flowers

4. Start with Colorful Flowers:

Once my first layer of color is completely dry, I randomly paint my flower shapes with Rose Madder Permanent, Wisteria and Quinacridone Lilac. The three colors together are a beautiful combination. Paint your shapes so they interconnect and vary in shape and size and avoid creating polka dots. Leave room for white sparkle and your greens.

Pot with Pizzazz, Cindy Briggs
5. Pot with Pizzazz

5. Pot with Pizzazz:

After designing your colorful flower shapes, paint in organic leaf shapes with Rich Green Gold and Phthalo Yellow Green first, leaving some of the whites for sparkle. Then go in and paint a few of the darker greens with Green Apatite Genuine – a wonderful earthy green. I also added a few dabs of Lavender for pizzazz. Once the flowers are dry go ahead and paint the pot with Burnt Sienna Light with a touch of Lavender, and the shadow shape on the doors and inside the window in Lavender (Cool) and Burnt Sienna Light (warm). Notice how I use both warm and cool colors throughout the painting to Jazz up the Colors.

Window panes & trim, Cindy Briggs
6. Window panes & trim

6. Window Panes & Trim:

This is where I start layering on color to define shapes. First the Window Panes in Permanent Brown (warm) and Lavender. Then I defined the shadow above and around the door with Permanent Brown, Burnt Sienna Light and Lavender. Always using both warm and cool colors in each shape.

Defining stonework, Cindy Briggs
7. Defining stonework

7. Defining Stonework:

Around the edges of the stonework I glaze mingled colors used on the first layer of color and values between the rocks and the wall to make the rocks and trip pop. I add calligraphy with the fine point of my quill brush and vary the color as draw around the window letting the brush skip and dance around the painting.

Fine tune & finesse, Cindy Briggs
8. Fine tune & finesse

8. Fine Tune & Finesse:

My Favorite part of the painting is when I’m just adding the final details, a brushstroke here, a dab of paint there, and some splatter to let go of the idea of perfection. You’ll see in the photo where I softened some edges and pushed back the left door/window panes so the the flowers could pop out even more. To see how I approached this painting from Start to Finish – please watch the video below:

Video – “Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence”, Watercolor Sketchbook Demonstration by Cindy Briggs


Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence, Watercolor Sketchbook Demonstration by Cindy Briggs
Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence, Watercolor Sketchbook Demonstration by Cindy Briggs

“Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence”
by Cindy Briggs

Cindy Briggs set up for painting Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence, Watercolor Sketchbook Demonstration
Cindy Briggs set up for painting Windowscape, Le Baux, Provence, Watercolor Sketchbook Demonstration

I am painting in a 9×12 Watercolor Sketchbook with 140lb cold press paper using a Watercolor Quill Brush Size 4. My big palette has 33 wells.

Featured DANIEL SMITH Watercolors, Cindy Briggs
Featured DANIEL SMITH Watercolors.

Featured New DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolors in the article and video:

Plus a few of my all time favorites from DANIEL SMITH from my Palette

Why I choose DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolors:

I admit I’ve tried other watercolors brands over the years and have eliminated all of them from my palette which for years has been 100% DANIEL SMITH. I appreciate the consistency of colors, the incredible and evolving unique range of color choices, especially in the natural earth hues. My current favorite color used in the majority of my paintings is the NEW DANIEL SMITH Lavender, it’s incredibly versatile and I often use it in my shadows and as an accent color. Wisteria is also a fun addition, as I’ve been painting Wisteria and Lavender in Provence. I always recommend DANIEL SMITH Watercolor to my students, it’s worth it to have the best.”

-Cindy Briggs

Photo of Cindy Briggs

Cindy Briggs fills her traveling sketchbooks with flowing lines and flowing watercolors. Known for her translucent tranquil paintings, her plein air and studio paintings share her connection with her chosen subjects.

You’ll find her work featured in magazines such as Plein Air Magazine, Outdoor Painter, museums, galleries and juried international shows. Briggs watercolor paintings all feature DANIEL SMITH Extra Fine Watercolors. Having recently returned from living in Provence, France Cindy Briggs is now living in Utah near Sundance Ski Resort.

Cindy co-owns Make Every Day A Painting workshops with Theresa Goesling. They share wonderful painting journeys with their students as they paint from Coast to Coast and throughout Europe. For more tips plus NEW online, studio and plein air workshops information visit:

Photo of Cindy Briggs plein air painting in Provence
Cindy Briggs plein air painting in Provence