Essentials of watercolor painting!

Posted by Chandra Pockrandt on


The paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle. When you create a painting in watercolors, light reflects off the white of the paper and bounces up through the colors, giving it a luminosity that can be truly magical.

Brushes Matter:

Experiment with different sizes to work out what your favorites are, but I'd also recommend getting hold of brushes that are smaller than you think you'll use. These will come in handy for those little details you don't anticipate.

Quality paints matter:

It's important to invest in good quality watercolor. It will last longer and won't yellow or degrade as much over time. There are lots of different brands and levels available in stores and online.Buy a few colors from different brands and find out which you prefer. Start small: you can mix a variety of colors using a limited palette.

Explore Dry versus Wet:

There are two major factors to consider when painting with watercolors: wet and dry. As the name suggests, watercolor is a water-based medium. You can manipulate the darkness and saturation of the pigment depending on how much water you add. 

Work from Dark to light:

Another important watercolor technique to remember is that you're working from light to dark. This means that anything you're keeping white or light in your painting needs to stay that way for the whole duration of the work. Build your values up layer by layer to arrive at the effect you want. This does take a lot of planning but the results will be worth it.

Splatter your paint:

One handy trick to add some energy to your watercolor painting is to use a splatter watercolor technique. This can help suggest water spray or floating dust. Hold your paintbrush between your thumb and middle fingers. Using your index finger, pull back on the bristles and let them snap forward. This method is a bit unpredictable, but can yield some very fun results, so I’d urge you to give it a try.

Get the texture right:

You'll notice that working in watercolors on a rougher paper does have its advantages. One of the obvious ones is that you don't have to work too hard to achieve a nice texture. That said, it's important to try to depict objects and materials with their textures included. This means using lights and darks as well as wets and drys.

Layer your colors:


Because watercolor is a thin medium, you'll need to build up color gradually. This is another advantage to the medium as you can do some color mixing right on the paper. Take one color and lay it down. Allow it to dry and then revisit with another shade. You'll notice where they overlap, the pigment mixes and you're left with a different color. This is great for building up flesh tones.

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