5 Tips and Tricks for Beginner Watercolor


I was always attracted to acrylics for the consistency, quick drying and versatility of medium – and up until now, it’s been my go-to preference.  There was a point in time when I tried out oil, but the messy clean up and the amount of time it takes for the paint to dry tested my patience.  I have to admit I stayed away from watercolor for a long time because I was always under the impression that you couldn’t get the same effect and the colors wouldn’t be a vibrant.  I purchased Daler Rowney Aquafine watercolor student paint set. It’s a great first set to get because it offers all the colors you need to get started.  Once the pads finish up, you can buy new pads individually or buy the tubes to refill the pallet.  After countless youtube video tutorials I’ve narrowed my top 5 tips for  beginner watercolor artists:

  1. Buy pigments over hues.  You don’t need to purchase professional, artist quality paints when you start out, however, there is one thing to keep in mind when you read the labels.  A pigment is a color in it’s purest and more vibrant form.  A hue could be several or more pigments mixed together to obtain a color which resembles a pigment.  So why is this important? Well, using the color on it’s own will typically yield good results, but mix the color with other primary colors, and the color will quickly get muted out, muddled or brown.  With watercolors, colors mix much more fluidly than acrylics, so it’s even more essential to avoid hues if possible.
  2. Invest in a good watercolor brush.  My first couple of watercolor paintings I used my acrylic brushes which gave 5 stars for acrylic and 4 for watercolor.  The results lacked detail and blending.  I went to the art store and bought an no. 8 round brush with a very pointy tip.  The difference in results when I used this brush were like night and day.  Suddenly, my watercolor paintings jumped to new levels! If you only want to buy one brush, this is the one to get.
  3. Play around with different values.  It’s amazing the amount of variety you can get out of two colors, mixed together at different ratios and with different amounts of water mixed in.  Add more water, the lighter the wash, less water the stronger the pigment appears on the paper. Use different values to differentiate between shadow and light – it’s the key to bring your paintings to life.
  4. Wet on wet vs. wet on dry.  Prepping your watercolor paper with a layer of water before you add any color results in a smooth, fluid effect. It also means colors will be pulled down the page and bleed into the page.  Wet on dry is used when you want a more definite edge.
  5. Find inspiration.  Through watching youtube video after video, I discovered Bob Davis (not to be confused with Bob Ross) and Art Tutor.  Subscribing to Art Tutor sends me weekly tips, ideas and inspiration to continue improving my skills!

One thought on “5 Tips and Tricks for Beginner Watercolor

  1. Pingback: Watercolour tips and tricks for beginners

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