New to Watercolor Painting? Here’s Your Guide to Getting Started

With all the time on our hands during the coronavirus, why not start a new hobby? One activity we’re super interested in trying is watercolor painting. To be honest, we haven’t used watercolors since elementary school when we were given them in art class and recently, we’ve been thinking about experimenting with colors and blending effects. Here’s your guide on what you’ll need for watercoloring as well as how to paint with watercolors.

Tools & Materials

The three items you’ll need are watercolor paper, a brush, and a paint palette. When choosing a color palette, try and get colors that will blend well together and that you can mix and match to make new hues. The base should have primary colors and neutrals and the paints should be very pigmented. For the brushes, make sure they’re soft with springy bristles and that their shape allows for small details and delicate lines as well as broader strokes and washes. The watercolor paper should be designed to hold water without too much bucking and it should stay wet for a long period of time.

How to Paint With Watercolors

Prep the paper by stretching it, which means brushing both sides of the paper with water and blotting it to remove any puddles and attaching it to a surface and allowing it to dry until it shrinks. Tape the edges of the paper to a board to prevent it from warping when it becomes wet. 

When you’re painting, you should work from large to small strokes and from light to dark colors to make sure your details can be seen. When you first start experimenting with watercolors, just use the colors that speak to you. You can mix the colors on the palette or you can let the colors and water mix on the paper.

Basic Techniques

Some basic techniques you can use are straight lines, glazing, flooding, dry brush, and spattering. To make thin, straight lines, use the tip of your brush and apply very light pressure. To add depth to your painting, try glazing by making a strike in one color and using a lot of water mixed with pigment. Then, let it dry and add another color brushstroke over it. To flood, paint a saturated stroke of color on the dry page and clean your brush before adding water to the color. Push the water into your color with your brush. For the dry brush technique, use just a small bit of pigment and water on the brush to add marks to the dry page. Lastly, the spatter technique can add finishing touches to your painting and all you have to do is tap a loaded paintbrush against your finger over the paper.