How To Paint With Water Colors

An Easy Watercolor Tutorial For Beginners

How & Where to Start with Watercolor Painting for Beginners

In this tutorial, we will be learning how to paint a sunset with watercolors. We will depict a sunset that is set over a vast body of water. We will not need a reference image, as this watercolor sunset painting can be achieved without a reference image. When painting with watercolor, you will find that there are many ways to use the medium that is not always exclusively a way of using the medium itself.

A Cactus With Watercolors

When youre feeling a little more confident with watercolors you might check out this demonstration of an easy cactus painting. And you might even try recreating it for yourself.

Even if you dont feel like a pro yet, make sure to give this a watch.

Its always helpful to see how someone elses painting comes together so you can observe how the process works.

Process Art Allows Artists To Use Thier Own Ideas To Create

There is a difference between product art and process. Product art tells the outcome before painting. There isnt much room for personal touches.

Process art begins with art supplies and ends with whats inside the young artists mind. It is important to provide lots of flexibility when we offer our children the painting to let their feelings and thoughts come to fruition.

We keep many of our art supplies in the art cart, so the boys have the freedom to create throughout the day. Here are the art supplies we keep inside.

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First Draw Your Picture

You cannot paint a picture in watercolors without having a picture to work on. Thus, the first step is to softly draw your picture using a light pencil, such as 2H or 3H. Proper artists pencils are water-resistant and will not spread across the paper or stain it when water is applied.

Bear in mind that you will not be able to erase the pencil marks once the watercolor paint has dried, so be sure not to apply too much pressure when sketching out your picture.

Using Gesso As A Primer

Sparkling Shoreline Watercolor Tutorial

Gesso is the primer of choice for many, many artists of various calibres, styles, and inspirations. It is suitable for almost any type of surface and compatible with both oil and watercolor paints.

I would recommend the Utrecht Studio Series Acrylic Gesso or the Blick Artists Acrylic Gesso. Both are excellent choices and they are both not very expensive. You can check the prizes by clicking on the links above.

When applied to canvas, for example, gesso reduces the amount of paint that gets soaked deep into the fabric. It holds the paint on the surface where it can be manipulated and moved freely.

If you buy any painting surface at an art or craft store, it will almost certainly have been pre-prepared with gesso or another type of primer. So, if you already have a prepped piece of wood, you can skip this part.

The problem with using gesso to prime wood is that, ironically, it can be too effective. If the reason youre using wood is to incorporate the natural grain in some way, gesso is likely to cover and conceal it.

The best ways to prevent this are to apply the thinnest coat of primer possible or follow the primer with a second sanding. In any case, the grain of the wood will be covered up to some degree.

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How To Paint A Realistic Mouth

If youre interested in painting portraits make sure to watch this tutorial on painting realistic female lips.

Lips are surprisingly finicky and a huge sticking point for a lot of budding portrait artists.

This is also great practice in mixing skin tones too!

You can never have too much practice mixing tones, right?

Accessories And Useful Tools For Watercolor Painting

In addition to the most basic tools for beginner watercolor painting, there are a few additional accessories that can really ramp up your watercolor painting experience. From color palettes for mixing, to unique and interesting materials like sponges and fabric, the world of watercolor basics has so much to offer.

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Dabbing Material: Paper And Cloth Cloths

It is always a good idea to have a soft cotton cloth nearby, with which you can remove excess paint or water from a brush. Kitchen towels made of paper also have an impressive absorption capacity. After all, even larger amounts of liquid can be dabbed off a watercolor painting relatively quickly and easily with paper kitchen towels if necessary.

You can use paper or cloth kitchen towels not only for corrections but also for creating conscious effects.

Required Materials For Basic Watercolor Painting

DO’S & DON’TS: How to Paint with Watercolor

If you want to start watercolor painting, you do not need very many materials for it. However, it makes sense to use the highest quality products possible when choosing accessories. This is especially true for the brushes used. You can save yourself a lot of frustration and make sure that your creativity can flow undisturbed during the painting process. Here are our tips and tricks for collecting the best watercolor basics.

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Set Up Your Watercolor Painting Workspace

Now that you have your watercolor painting materials on hand, you can set up your creative workspace! Find a space that can accommodate your materials and allows you to place your water someplace where it wont accidentally be spilled on your work.

If you dont use a board, you may also consider putting newspaper or paper towels under your work area to protect any underlying surfaces.

How To Paint Faces With Watercolor

If you already have a decent grip on drawing faces and want to start painting them in watercolor, this tutorial will show you how to paint those beautiful vibrant skin tones using layering techniques.

Take a look at this tutorial because it demonstrates how to use pooling and hard edges to your advantage.

When done right this can create stunning, surreal faces and hair that really pop off the page.

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Beginners Color Mixing Tutorial With Warm & Cool Primary Paints

In this simple painting youre going to discover why you need six primary colored paints to achieve a good range of color mixing.

Begin by drawing two squares on your paper. In the first square youre going to paint washes of cool colors, and in the second you will paint washes of warm colors. Prepare a good wet mixture of all six primary colors in your palette. The idea here is to work quickly, because you want to apply all three primary colors into each square before the first washes start to dry. This is a technique called wet on wet, and as you will see, it produces beautiful diffused blends of color.

  • Start by wetting the square with clear water. You want the colors to blend together on the paper, and this is easier if the surface remains wet while youre working. This is a painting technique known as wet on wet.
  • In the first square you will be combining cool yellow, cool blue, and cool red. Its a good idea to start with your lightest toned colors, which in general is yellow . Fill in one corner of the square.
  • Next add some cool blue on the other side of the square. Let the paints diffuse and mix together on the paper.
  • Finally add some cool red to complete the square. You can encourage the paints to blend together by tilting the paper slightly, or by dabbing color into the wet wash to create mixes on the surface.
  • Go through the same process with the other square, only this time you will use only Warm yellow, warm blue, and warm red.

Go grab those brushes!

Adding Color Onto The Wet Surface

Loose watercolor technique

Whilst the sky is still wet, begin to be playful with color combinations that you might want to exist in your sunset. For example, a good idea is to slowly build from your yellow to darker tones moving from reds to blues and purples.

Try to be playful with how you apply these various colors in the sky. think about squiggle motions and linear strokes to imitate different types of cloud structures.

As you learn how to paint a sunset you should always consider that no sunset is ever the same as another. This means there is freedom in the mark-making process associated with how we create clouds and movement in the sky of our sunsets.

Sunset in watercolor can be really beautiful as the medium water quality allows for a lot of soft gradient shifts. Try to be swift and quote your application of new colors whilst the page is still wet. This will allow for the colors to merge more seamlessly.

Try to also not dominate the lighter tones with your darker tones in your sunset water painting. A good suggestion of how to do this is by adding the darker tones within the corners of our sky. This allows for good contrast without the lighter colors being completely dominated.

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What Are The Different Watercolor Techniques

There are various watercolor techniques. In this tutorial, we go through some of them such as wet-on-wet for instance. This technique is where we apply our wet paint to our wet surface. This is good for soft and blurring backgrounds, as well as creating seamless gradients. Another technique is dry brushing. This technique is great for adding details toward the end of the softer tones. This is because we are applying dry paint which then will have less of a translucent quality, which will result in a stark appearance. These are just a few that are helpful for water surfaces.

How Has Watercolor Painting Developed As An Art Form In Its Own Right

According to historical research, watercolor painting goes back to painters like Albrecht Dürer, who experimented with painting techniques of this kind for the first time around 1500. At that time, however, watercolors were initially only the simpler and quicker designs, on the basis of which important oil paintings were then to be created. In the 18th century, the recognition for watercolor painting increased considerably and important artists such as Emil Nolde, Christian Modersohn, William Turner and Paul Cézanne created important works of art with the watercolor technique. Since this time, watercolor painting has been an integral part of the art world.

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This Watercolor Painting Worked For All Three Of My Boys Ages

Ill admit. At first, I demonstrated to my children that you use a permanent marker to draw the entire picture and then color in using the watercolors.

It turns out they have different plans. And they should. Who am I to tell young artists how to structure artwork?

I have a toddler, preschooler, and seven-year-old. Each one of them knows exactly where their painting is heading. Lesson learned to sit back and watch it all unfold.

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First, I show the boys how to dip the paintbrush into water.

Next, I demonstrate how the paint gets on the brush after getting wet.

The most important part is washing the brush off in between each color. I know each boy would remember this differently, so we write names on each watercolor case before getting started.

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Get The Textures Right

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners Step by Step

You’ll notice that working in watercolours on a rougher paper does have its advantages. One of the obvious ones is that you don’t have to work to 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.

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Paint From Light To Dark

When you are painting with any other medium besides watercolors, for example, oils and acrylics, you would paint the dark colors before the light. It is the opposite way around with watercolors because you work from light to dark. This is because all the light, or luminosity, comes from the white paper, not from the paint itself. Thus, if you paint from dark to light, you will not see any light colors because they will have been absorbed by the darker colors.

Watercolor Fundamental #: Wet On Dry Painting Technique

With wet on dry painting, you do not wet the paper first you simply use the watercolors, mixed well with a bit of water, straight on dry paper.

Dry paper can be a completely fresh blank piece of paper or it can be something you already painted on that has dried.

With this method, you will have a lot more control of where the paint goes, and you will see much more defined lines and edges.

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How Much Water Should I Add

Start with adding less water to the paint dab. Keep adding till it reaches a good milk like consistency. Keep in mind that watercolor paint becomes lighter when it dries.

Exercise: Mix paint and water of three consistencies: tea, milk and butter. Make a color wheel for each consistency. Compare and study these once they are dry.

You Dont Feel Creative

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As a child you drew without concern. The thing is, youve always been creative Youve just forgotten this part of yourself.

Every new painting is a step towards improving your skills and finding your creative voice.

I find the best way to overcome doubt is to take action. Practicing watercolors, just a little every day, is a great way to dissipate doubt.

And remember this is supposed to be fun!

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What Is Watercolor

Watercolor paint is an amazing translucent medium used with water, and in some cases, a lot of water.

Its an art medium with pigment in it and its water-soluble. This means that when you add water to this pigment, you can spread the pigment with a brush.

As opposed to acrylic paint, watercolors are lighter, translucent, and I would say, more gentle than acrylics. And so soft-looking!

However, they can be intimidating. This mostly happens if you paint with watercolors and dont add enough water, or you dont spread the pigment enough with your brush, or you add too much water and then you cant control it.

Remember, watercolors are not supposed to look like acrylics, which are opaque and not transparent. On the contrary, watercolor paints should have the effect of translucency and softness.

Another thing thats different from acrylic paint is that watercolors react with water even after theyre dry. Dont worry, you can still paint in layers, but keep in mind that if you use too many strokes over one area, youll lift the paint from the previous layer.

This comes in handy when you intentionally want to lift paint from certain areas, but more about his technique later in the post.


Hit the orange button to join my free Art Journal Starter Course and start making art without staring at the blank page and without the fear of ruining everything. .

How To Color Skin

Ready for something a little more challenging?

Well this tutorial shows you not only how to mix gorgeous skin tones but also how to create soft, smooth skin texture.

Youll learn how to paint shadows and highlights that pop in any piece.

These techniques are perfect for any style of portrait, whether youre going for photorealism or cartooning or something more.

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Watercolor Painting Vs Oil Painting

Watercolors have some distinct differences that may seem a bit daunting at first. Watercolor doesnt have the same raw power when applied as oil painting does, which is why its ideal for those who want to create delicate and light paintings instead of bolder ones.

In watercolors, you dont use an easel or palette just your paper and paint! This makes them perfect not only for beginners but also for children because they are easy to use without too many complicated steps.

Watercolors can dry quickly , more transparent than oils, and usually require fewer coats before achieving desired saturation levels.

How To Paint Intense Shadow Colors

HOW TO USE WATERCOLOR – Guide for Beginners

Beginning watercolorists tend to run into issues when painting shadows.

This is because its easy to use too much water and paint too lightly, and also because selecting colors for shadows that pop instead of looking muddy can be a real challenge.

Try this tutorial for choosing colors and painting intense shadows that still look vibrant.

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Staying Motivated: 20 Minutes Watercolor

Choose a small, simple subject and paint it within 20 minutes. It could be your keychain, a chair, the days vegetables or even a used teabag.

The time limit forces you to be spontaneous. And, since you are not working from a tutorial or trying to recreate a famous painting the pressure will be much less.

I promise you this small practice will fill you with motivation. Youll find it calms and relaxes you like meditation! As well as improves your skill over time.

How To Paint With Watercolors

This article was co-authored by Kelly Medford. Kelly Medford is an American painter based in Rome, Italy. She studied classical painting, drawing and printmaking both in the U.S. and in Italy. She works primarily en plein air on the streets of Rome, and also travels for private international collectors on commission. She founded Sketching Rome Tours in 2012 where she teaches sketchbook journaling to visitors of Rome. Kelly is a graduate of the Florence Academy of Art.There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 210,229 times.

Looking to expand on your paint-by-number skills? Watercolor painting is a rewarding and expressive skill. The paints are made with color pigments suspended in a water-soluble base. You control the addition of water to create a luminous or striking painting. Watercolor paints are often chosen to render landscapes or natural scenes. Whatever you choose to paint, you’ll need to buy supplies, get set up, and start practicing.

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