Box 4 - Mountain Valley

Sarah Burns Studio X Craftamo
Gouache Subscription Box 4

Part 1: Unboxing, & Concept Sketches


Materials in Box #4:

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

Concept Sketches

Sometimes a vast scene can be overwhelming. How do you create depth or create a sense of detail on a distant mountain?
It’s all about shapes, not objects. As often as possible, I try to see a simplified shape rather than a thing. A mountain is a triangle.
I also utilize “brush stroke economy.” Meaning I strive to paint my subject with as few brush strokes as possible. I believe this is what helps create a very fresh, energetic look. It also forces me to get really creative with my marks! An entire forest in the distance can be represented in a single brush stroke.

For mountains in particular, I have a standard approach: Start with a simplified shape. Base color is usually a stone color or darker blue (with a little black mixed in).Then:

  1. Add a bluish-white on shadow side of mountain for snow shadows
  2. Add pure white on sun side of mountain for snow highlights
  3. Always use dry brush for snow
  4. Use black or really dark blue to create cracks/crevices all over

Part 2: Demo


I used many images to inspire this composition. I love to pull pieces of photos and combine them to invent something. I’ll use whatever inspires me from each image.

So we will use my painting as reference:


These images inspired my painting:

My final painting:


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

What’s coming in Box #5

In Box 5 we will be painting a snowscape!

Supplies included in Box 5:

  • Paper
  • 2 brushes
    • #8 Filbert
    • #6 Round
  • 2 Colors: 
    • Cerulean Blue,
    • Cobalt Violet Hue

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. 

Stay Wet Palettes:

Craftamo sells extra paper (same as what is in the boxes) and it’s very affordable. 

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.