12 Watercolor Painting Tips for Beginners in 2022
Do you want to learn how to paint watercolors? Are you a beginner interested in painting with watercolor?
If so, this article is for you! In the following paragraphs, we’ll cover everything from materials and supplies needed to what makes watercolor paintings different from other types of art.
This article will provide watercolor painting tips for beginners.
It goes over the basics such as materials and supplies needed and offers suggestions on what kind of paints are best for beginners. Let’s get started!
Tip #01: The Best Paints For Beginners
Every artist has their favorite type of paint to use when starting, but what’s the best choice for those just getting into creating watercolor paintings?
The go-to for beginners is student grade paint, which usually costs less than professional grade.
Watercolor paints come in various brands and types, so you can play around with various options to find the perfect one that suits your style!
Tip #02: Mixing Colors
When mixing colors, keep in mind that watercolor paints are transparent and will mix to create new hues.
It means you’ll need less of each color than if you were painting with oils or acrylics because it’s going to take more layers before reaching the desired shade.
Keep an eye on your paint pigments, as some may have already been mixed when bought!
How To Mix Colors On Your Palette
When starting watercolors, one great piece of advice is to experiment with mixing colors on your palette (or even an old plate!) before bringing them to paper.
Use a palette that is the same size as your paper and mix colors by holding them side-by-side.
Try to keep similar colors on one half of the palette while using contrasting or complementary shades along the other edge for a stunning, vibrant effect.
It will give you a better understanding of how much water or pigment needs to be added at what point during the painting process, so they all blend well together on paper.
The more confident artists become, they often prefer using straight tubes/pans of paint to mix on the paper.
Tip #03: How To Paint With Watercolor
Dipping your brush in water and then loading it with color is a quick way to achieve a fascinating, hazy look.
Make sure you load up more than you think will be needed, as overloading your brush can create streaks or drips that make for unappealing art.
Try painting a large area with similar colors and then loading up your brush for some more minor details in the center or around the edges of your piece to create depth in work.
After you have painted on paper, it is best to leave it dry before adding anything more so the paint doesn’t bleed into other areas.
There are many ways to speed up drying time, such as using an electric fan, setting a hairdryer close, or even placing a hot water bottle over the top.
It will help maintain moisture levels without over-drying the surface underneath too much if done correctly.
When starting in watercolor (or any medium for that matter), it is best to start with a fundamental shape, such as a circle, square, or triangle.
Once you feel comfortable enough, try more complex shapes like flowers and animals.
Tip #04: Using A Palette Knife With Watercolor Painting
Holding it like you would a paintbrush, use the knife to smear water and color together quickly before laying down more color.
It helps create movement in your work but can be used sparingly with a careful application to not cover too much surface area at once.
Selecting A Painting Surface
Depending on what type of paper you’re using, different surfaces work better than others!
For instance, if you want that textured effect popularized by Turner, then choose rough eggshell canvas.
If you want a high-gloss finish, choose smooth gessoed canvas.
Tip #05: Drying Your Painting
When your painting is complete, allow plenty of time for drying before storing or displaying them away from direct sunlight.
For best results, place a sheet of glass over the top when done so that air can circulate through and evaporate excess moisture faster than if left uncovered.
If you’re impatient like me, though, just let the paper towel do its job!
I’ve never had any problems with mildew because of this process, but I would recommend using an anti-fungal product anyways if you’re unsure.
Tip #6: Cleaning Brushes
Rinse your brushes out with water in between colors by holding them at an angle so that they can be scrubbed clean against their natural shape.
You’ll see pigment start coming out, which will help revive any dried-up paint.
This process may need repeating depending on how long you used each color without being cleaned first. Repeat until no pigment comes out when rinsed.
When you finished, lay the bristles flat on a paper towel so that they can dry out overnight.
Tip #7: Cleaning Your Palette
There are two ways to clean out your palette from any leftover colors from projects past. One way is by using turpentine since it will remove all pigment (though you should do this sparingly).
The other method is simply adding water until there’s just enough liquid left for brush cleaning before wiping the excess on something else like scrap paper.
To avoid ruining future paintings due to poorly cleaned brushes, run them through some cold water after every use while the bristles are still wet.
Tip #8: Fixing Mistakes With Erasers/Fixative Spray
To fix mistakes made while painting after drying, use an eraser (or rubber cement remover) where needed but be careful not to sand down too much.
Otherwise, it will look uneven when repainted! The best way to fix mistakes is with a spray-on product called Fixative.
Tip #9: Painting Symmetrical Objects
If you want the effect of symmetry when working from life (or drawing by hand), you can use tricks such as dividing the object in half both vertically and horizontally to get a sense of how the different shapes will look.
Tip #10: Painting Objects with Curves
Try drawing objects first on paper by hand before painting if you want them to curves, like round vases or apples.
You can then trace around these circles onto your watercolor board so that they are ready for when it comes time to paint!
Tip #11: Saving Your Paintings
It is crucial to protect your paintings from dust and light damage, which fades colors over time.
I recommend using glass-fronted frames whenever possible (although this might limit framing options).
As well as glazing paints, such as True Flow Watercolor Varnish, which keep color bright and vibrant without yellowing over time.
Tip #12: Converting Colors from One Palette to Another
If you want your painting to have more muted tones and still use complementary colors, try converting them into analogous ones by mixing shades instead of relying solely on lighter hues that might clash with your palette!
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do you start watercolor for beginners?
- Start with a simple shape or pattern and use the primary colors of watercolor to fill it in.
- Create different shapes, patterns, textures by varying your brushstrokes and using more than one color at once.
- Experiment with adding paint from other colors on top of the surface you are painting – this will create exciting layers that can be peeled off later if desired. You don’t have to mix all your paints beforehand!
- Mix complementary colors for depth and intensity. Try yellow and blue (green), red and green (magenta), or violet with any other three primaries.
- Experimenting is vital when working without a specific plan. Just let loose! There’s no right or wrong way to do watercolors, just what you think looks good!
- Use a wet paper towel to remove any excess watercolor from the surface of your painting before it dries. It will help create clean edges and avoid “bleeding.”
- Try using different brushes for varied effects, or try splattering paint with your fingers in an abstract fashion.
- Once the paint has dried completely, use fixative spray on top or add gel medium to preserve the image and keep colors vibrant over time (a little goes a long way!).
How can I learn watercolor painting?
The watercolor painting process is straightforward, with a few tips to keep in mind.
- Plan the composition before beginning sketching or drawing. Sketch lightly using a pencil so that it will be easier to paint over later if necessary.
- Use loose, expressive strokes when applying paint for greater visual interest and color variation. Don’t worry about making mistakes because they can provide an interesting texture of their own!
- Add some white (or another light color) highlights as desired towards the end of each stroke for subtlety, or use more intense colors toward the tip of your brush to create dramatic effects like lightning bolts coming out from behind clouds in a stormy sky.
- Keep wet paper away from other papers you don’t want to get wet.
- Rinse and dry your brush thoroughly after each color because oil paint takes a long time to dry, so it will continue to “bleed” into the paper or canvas even when you think it has already dried.
- Add water to thin down colors as necessary while painting for more fluid effects like clouds on an overcast day.
- Mix complementary colors (opposite of one another on the color wheel) for beautiful combinations such as purple and yellow, blue and orange, or red and green!
Is watercolor suitable for beginners?
Yes, it is. Watercolor is a great medium for beginners because it’s effortless to get started.
You don’t need any unique materials to start painting with watercolors as oils or acrylics do. All you need are paints, paper, and a brush!
Is it hard to learn watercolor painting?
Some people say that watercolor painting is complex, but it’s not. It just requires practice and patience to learn the techniques used in this medium of art.
The more you paint with watercolors, the easier it becomes to mix colors and create different effects on your paper or canvas.
You can also use a wet-on-wet technique where you start with one color before adding another color to build up depth and detail while still retaining some transparency between layers of paint.