watercolor tutorial | study of Berthe Morisot’s “On the Cliff”

by | Aug 10, 2021 | Artistic Endeavors, Watercolors | 8 comments

Over the weekend, I worked on a study in my sketchbook of Berthe Morisot’s “On the Cliff” and I decided to turn the camera and film a watercolor tutorial while I was working on it.  I’ve had so many requests for more painting classes and to share my work in my sketchbook as I’m creating it, so I’m trying to turn the camera on more often to create tutorials for those who want to paint along.

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

This study in my sketchbook came out of taking time to read through the book Watercolor: A History.  It is a hefty, gorgeous book on how the use and art of watercolor has developed over the centuries.  I found it to be incredibly inspiring and I was motivated to pull out my sketchbook and paint.

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

Before we get into the watercolor tutorial, I want to share why I love doing master studies so much.   First of all, we learn through emulation.  I know that when it comes to creative endeavors, innovation is put on a pedestal.  In actuality, few things are truly innovative and innovation almost always springs from the study of work that’s already been done.  Artists have understood this for centuries, which is why artists in traditional learning environments have copied the work of other artists before branching out into their own style.  I love the fact that I have some of the very best artists in history at my fingertips in my studio library to learn from.  They teach me so much even though they are no longer on this earth.

Second, I love things that are old.  I don’t find a lot of interest in painting anything that feels too contemporary or modern in subject or style.  The drawings and paintings people created 100+ years ago are what I’m drawn to most.

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

Here are the supplies & materials I’m using for this watercolor tutorial…

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

And, here is the full video tutorial.  The video is in real-time and it will take just under an hour if you work at a similar pace.

If you want to jump to a certain part in the watercolor tutorial, here are the times…

  • Materials & Supplies – 00:47
  • Pencil Sketch – 3:17
  • Watercolor – 12:36

While I don’t cover the very basics of watercolor, this is a good tutorial for beginners and for those who want to work on a master study, drawing people, and mixing with a limited color palette. I jump right into the sketch and painting, but I do talk through the process and share tips on working with watercolor throughout the tutorial.

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

I wasn’t sure what the cream-colored blob on the right of the horizon was.  It sort of looks like a chicken, but would be way out of scale!  A few people suggested it was a woman from behind, carrying an infant.  I think that’s exactly what it is.  Mystery solved!

watercolor tutorial | master study of Berthe Morisot's On the Cliff | miss mustard seed

I didn’t make a video of this painting, but I used the same palette and technique to create it.  The reference painting is Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière by Ingres.  I saw her when I visited the Louvre in 2018 and took the reference photo I used, but you can find pictures of the painting online if you’d like to study it as well.  This painting was originally done in oils, but I found it lent itself to being interpreted in watercolors.

watercolor tutorial | master study of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière by Ingres | miss mustard seed

If you’d like to watch more of my free art tutorials, there is an entire oil painting series that was filmed during the 2020 lockdown available HERE.

Let me know if you paint along with this watercolor tutorial!  I always love feedback and hearing the stories of your creative journeys.  It encourages me to create and share more.

For my “home followers”, I’m going to be working on the basement fireplace and installing chair rail this week.


  1. Cindy D

    I have a sketch book that I use on things that inspire me or when we’re on vacation. I was watching your video just now and you gave me an awesome tip that I never thought of. I like how you “measured” the height or width with your pencil. Simple yet genius. Thank you for that. There are sometimes where my sketch seems off balance. I’m using that tip from now on. I love it. As always, you’re an inspiration my friend.

    • Marian Parsons

      I’m so glad! Yes, that helps me a lot to double-check myself. It also helps a lot to look at things in relation to each other. It helps me see what is off and what needs to be corrected.

  2. Laura Hale

    Thank you so much for the watercolor tutorial! There are a lot more tutorials on oils out there, but not so much when it comes to realistic, or representative w/c. We really appreciate your time and effort in sharing this. Thanks again.

  3. Babs

    A large sheet of white watercolor paper is very intimidating! But a small sketchbook isn’t…at least, that is what I tell myself. Thank you for making watercolors less daunting and more approachable.

  4. co

    thanks for sharing…great idea to paint a study of fave works

  5. Stacy

    It still looks like a chicken. I love good ol’ Berthe, but in this case, I’m agreeing with you. 😉

  6. Denise C

    I’m so excited to paint along on these studies.. I’m finding I love the watercolor medium, it’s a bit challenging, but has been fun. Thank you as always for sharing your knowledge to us. I for one soak it up and watch and rewatch every video you’ve made on art.

  7. Jo

    That shape on the cliff looks like the backs of a man and woman walking away


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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