Watercolor: hazy backgrounds


What are the techniques to create such a hazy background in watercolor as depicted here behind the squirrel? I imagine it is partly done by thin washes of a blue-greyish hue, but I’d very much like some experienced tips on this. :slightly_smiling_face:

PS Perhaps an idea for Matt to redo this painting with mixed media e.g. watercolors and colored pencils? I would love to watch that, as there are several technical challenges to deal with - well, at least to me.


Hi AnnaMaria. I love your question and suggestion. I am not ready to tackle such a complex subject in watercolors, but it would be fun to understand how to achieve such results.

What a beautiful Watercolor. Just wonderful.

Denise, I would love to say thank you, but unfortunately it isn’t me who’ve painted this - I wish it was. I’ve posted it as a help / explanation for my question on how to make such a hazy, subtle background as behind the squirrel. And I totally agree, this is a wonderful painting - I love it too! :heart::hugs:

It is painted by the British wild life artist Andrew Hutchinson. This is his website:

Hi Anna Maria,

This looks like a painting in acrylics or perhaps gouache. It’s going to be more difficult to achieve this result with watercolor. The opaqueness of acrylic paint allows the artist to work back and forth with dark and light values. The values of the colors in the background are fairly light and it looks like quite a bit of white was mixed to create this hazy look.

A couple of other things…

I’m glad you put a link to this artist’s website. Whenever you use an image of someone else’s art, you need to credit the artist.

I cannot do any copies of other artist’s work.


Thanks a lot, Matt, for taking your time to give me a personal answer. So the trick is to use a fairly opaque medium mixed with plenty of white and then adding several layers. I will give it a try with a similar pixture taken by myself. Have a nice day.

Best regards,
Anna Maria

Hi AnnaMaria!

I just joined this community and happened to see your question. It is very possible to achieve the hazy, diffused backgrounds in watercolor though I would also say that this isn’t an effect that is easy, even for an advanced watercolorist, to achieve. It requires skill in being able to work fairly fast and success is determined by the dampness of paper, moisture content of your paint mixes and the water content in one’s brush. I do these sorts of backgrounds often with my bird and floral paintings. :))


Nice job on the background - smooth hazy appearance.

Hello Claire. I love this painting. Do you have a website? I would really like to see more of your art. I too would like to know how to achieve this hazy background, but since I am a true newbie at watercolor, I will stick to easier styles until I understand the medium better. Thanks for sharing!

Hi Sterlingsiam!

Thank you so much. It is one of my favorites too. When you feel you are ready I could try to explain how to achieve these bgs. Ask anytime. I do have a website though I don’t keep up with it as well as I should. claireosborneart.com. I do post much more on IG if you’d like to see…osborne6060. Enjoy your wc journey. It is THE most beautiful medium of all but then I’m biased lol.

Thank you for your offer Claire. I see, from your website, that this is truly your passion. Your art is amazing!

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Thank you so much. That’s a lovely thing to say. Much appreciated. :))

That’s very pretty Claire. I do love the bird and the background. I’ve also tried to do this in watercolour, I’m not an expert at all. Sometimes I have great success, sometimes just a bit of a mess lol!