Robert Cook Oak Point Watercolor Inspiration

Over 30 years of visiting with my family at the summer lake house, I’ve been enjoying the view. Looking from the boat dock you could see this beautiful oak tree growing right out on the end of a neighbor’s lot. As this tree got bigger and taller through the years I took even more notice, saying to myself, ‘I’ve got to paint this scene!’

A couple of years back, I was sitting on the dock looking at the oak, the water was still reflecting the whole Point, and that was the moment. I took several photos that day, trying different angles, but it came down to just this one great spot from the dock.

Drawing the View I used the grid system to enlarge the photograph on to a full sheet of Arches watercolor paper. I spent a full day getting the drawing just right. My main focus was to get all those holes drawn up in the tree foliage that you can see through to the sky behind. The other important feature was drawing the reflections in the water of the tree and boat dock.


Featured Watercolor Palette

  • DANIEL SMITH Hansa Yellow Medium,
  • DANIEL SMITH Permanent Orange,
  • DANIEL SMITH Pyrrol Red,
  • DANIEL SMITH Permanent Red,
  • DANIEL SMITH Quinacridone Violet,
  • DANIEL SMITH Burnt Sienna,
  • DANIEL SMITH Raw Umber,
  • DANIEL SMITH Burnt Umber,
  • DANIEL SMITH Van Dyck Brown,
  • DANIEL SMITH Serpentine Genuine,
  • DANIEL SMITH Phthalo Yellow Green,
  • DANIEL SMITH Deep Sap Green,
  • DANIEL SMITH Cobalt Teal,
  • DANIEL SMITH Cerulean Blue,
  • DANIEL SMITH Manganese Blue Hue,
  • DANIEL SMITH Opera Pink,
  • DANIEL SMITH Phthalo Blue GS,
  • DANIEL SMITH Imperial Purple, and
  • DANIEL SMITH Lunar Black

Painting the Sky, Background , and Masking the Main Features Using masking tape for some of the larger areas and DANIEL SMITH Masking Fluid to mask small areas I covered the boat dock and dock poles, the shore line, and the house up above the oak tree. I painted the sky with Cerulean blue, blending down to a slight touch of Opera Pink and finally a hint of Hansa Yellow Medium at the horizon. Then with a cool blue-green mix I painted the far hills across the lake.

Water Reflections Using the new DANIEL SMITH Masking Fluid and following my pre-drawn horizontal lines of the reflections, I preserved the white paper where I want my lightest values of the water. I used a combination of the masking tape and the liquid masking for the long vertical left edge of the reflection. I then dive into the painting with a flat 1” sable brush, while remembering as I go that I always paint water reflections darker than the item being reflected.

I generally do the water in two stages, first the darkest values, let it dry, then remove the masking, and finally a lighter value of blue quickly right over the darker values I’ve just painted. I go back and carefully drop in the colors from the dock reflected in the water. I can now mask the small and larger see-through holes in the major trees. I also mask the white house behind the trees on the right side. This process probably took more than an hour of using the fluid applicator with clear plastic tips. Mostly doing small dots of the fluid.

Foliage I cover my finished water areas with paper, knowing that I’m going to be working above that area for quite awhile. Now I’m laying in the tree foliage and different green values with the lightest warm greens at the upper left of each mass. DANIEL SMITH Deep Sap Green Watercolor is the best base color for trees that I’ve ever used! I also use quite a bit of the Serpentine Genuine for lighter areas. I like to add Phthalo Blue into the shade areas of the leaf masses. When most of the major foliage is finished I paint the trunks and branches and a few individual leaves with a #4 fine point sable brush.

Final Steps I’ve finished all the tree greens, trunks and limbs, wait for everything to completely dry, then removed all the masking fluid to reveal the hundreds of holes showing sky color through the trees. Even the little chair with fishing pole on the far seawall is revealed. If I feel that there are to many holes , all you have to do is paint them over. The final stage is to remove all the tape and paint in the boat dock and covered boat and seawall. Final watercolor – Oak Point, don’t forget to sign it!

Robert W. Cook