Month 3 Tutorial - Forest Light

Sarah Burns Studio X Craftamo
Gouache Subscription Box 3

Part 1: Unboxing, Supplies, Swatching & Color Mixing


Materials in Box #3:

  • Paper
  • 2 brushes
    • ¼" Flat
    • #16 Round
  • 3 colors
    • Burnt Umber,
    • Alizarin Crimson,
    • Primary Cyan

Color Swatches and Mixes

The primary blue and alizarin crimson are both VERY strong colors, so you only need a tiny bit. Try mixing the colors from previous boxes with the new ones to see the wide variety of colors you can make.

Part 2: Layering Homework


With the amount of layering required in a forest scene, it’s really helpful to break it down into simple steps. I like to make these little “cheat sheets” for myself for all sorts of things. They are great for testing different brushes, colors, marks, and ideas.

Try it for yourself! Fill a few pages of your sketchbook with small examples, and try different color combinations.

Value Sketch & Color Picking

 Now that we’ve practiced some of the basic layering techniques for forest elements, let’s put it together. I always like to plan out my scene before doing a full painting. This allows me to figure out a good composition before devoting tons of time to a painting.

My value study shows the importance of back-light in the forest- meaning the sun is behind the forest and all the shadows move towards us. That is a strong design element.

The color study is very simplified, but allows me to figure out what mixes will look nice in the scene. Keep the brush strokes minimal, and focus on color placement (not detail).

Part 3: Forest Demo

My final painting:

I hope you enjoy this demo! See you next month!

My mixing tray: Guerrilla Painter 6x8 Tray

What’s coming in Box #4

In Box 4 we will be painting a forest!

Supplies included in Box 4:

  • Paper
  • 2 brushes
    • #18 Mop
    • ½” Angle
  • 3 Colors: 
    • Primary White,
    • Cobalt Blue,
    • Primary Black

Brush Care 

Never leave your brushes in water for too long. After rinsing, dry the hairs as best you can with a towel then let them dry on a flat surface. Leaving them in water for too long can cause the wood of the handle to swell, which can crack the handle coating. If that happens, the brush is still usable, just not as pretty! 

I usually clean mine with brush soap every few uses. You can find brush soap on the Craftamo website or any art store.


Don’t forget to join my Discord chat server! You can share images of your sketches/painting and enjoy a sense of community. Or if you’d like to share your work with me on Instagram, use the hashtag #sarahburnstutor so I can find you.

Additional helpful resources:

Brand new to gouache? As you discover questions about gouache, I hope to answer as many as I can. For now, you can start with this blog post which goes very in-depth about what gouache is.

If you want even more instruction, I often post free tutorials on YouTube. Otherwise my Patreon is a great resource to learn even more. 

Additional suggested materials:

I use lots of different gouaches, papers, sketchbooks, and palettes for different purposes. You don’t need anything extra right now, except maybe paper as you will probably run out of that first. Craftamo sells extra paper (same as what is in the boxes) and it’s very affordable. 

One of my favorite palettes is the 6x8 Guerrilla Backpacker™ Covered Palette TrayI also like this ceramic tray.

Otherwise, I have lots of recommendations. I keep an updated list of all my favorite art supplies here.

How I use and care for my brushes: video

This video shows all the brush types you will receive over the course of the 12 month subscription. At the end of the video I show how to care for your brushes.