Layers of Mountains

sl9714-step-9 mountain layers

One of our readers had a great question, she asked what paint mixtures are used for painting layers of mountains? Jack and I thought all of you would enjoy this more detailed description of the color recipes. Let’s go back to a painting I just completed recently, Sanctuary of Serenity. I’ve numbered the mountains from the most distant #1 to the closest #4. Please keep in mind, most of these mixes are mainly White with small amounts of the colors mentioned.

Number 1. The farthest mountain is painted with mixes of Ultramarine Blue + a bit of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + White.

Number 2. Pthalo Blue + Ultramarine Blue + a tiny bit of Cadmium Orange + MUD + White. Some of the lightest blues from mountain #1 are used along the lowest part of this one, that gives the impression of the mist between the ridges.

Number 3. This mountain uses darker values of the mixes in #2. Also a little Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White is used. You can see strokes of the darker cloud color (MUD + White) is brought in for the ground areas. Also mixes of MUD + Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + White are made for the ground. All of these mixes have more blue than orange so they will still drop back. Like in #2 the blues from #1 are added in the lowest region.

Number 4. On the closest mountain Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + a tiny bit of MUD + White are used for the trees. More Orange is in the greens that are warmed by the sunlight. The ground color is White + Cadmium Orange + Pthalo Blue. A little Lemon Yellow is also added into some of the mixes for the light gray-greens of the dried grass covering the hillside. I also make a few strokes using the blues from Mountain #1, just to give a little coolness here and there.

SL9714 Sanctuary of Serenity 36x48

Here’s the finished painting so you can see how the coolest mountain #1 recedes. And the warmth of mountain #4 makes it look closer. If you’d like to see the image larger just click on the picture.

Another reader asked if I use any reference for the flowers in containers. Definitely YES, I refer to photos or digital images for everything I paint.  I put my laptop on the taboret next to the easel. This is our old studio but it allows you to see the setup.


Digital cameras make it really easy to store your reference pictures in files and folders on your computer. Just make sure to back them up to an external hard drive. Computer crashes are a fact of life! We also have 3 shelves worth of 3 ring binders filled with photos. They are categorized by subject. Here are a few examples: Flowers in Containers, Santa Fe Doors, Vineyards, Trees, Caribbean Beaches, etc. You get the idea. Always feel free to ask questions, I’ll answer them the best I can 🙂 HUGS,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

2 Responses to “Layers of Mountains”

  1. Chris Says:

    Thank you, Mikki! Excellent!

  2. janet Says:

    Really appreciate that you take the trouble to answer questions. It is a big help understanding how other artists tackle the same problems that we all share, even if our styles are very different.

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