Watercolor painting is so much fun! It’s also great for beginners and at the same time incredibly diverse. Here you will find my best tips to make painting even easier with watercolors and to achieve even better results!
I keep getting various questions about watercolor painting. And so I have collected a little to give you helpful tips on the most common questions and challenges with watercolor paints.
Watercolor tip No. 1: start with a delicate and light layer of paint!
You can achieve the most beautiful effects with watercolor if you put several layers of paint on top of each other. I recommend that you start with the first coat of paint very gently and easily. Then you have the maximum freedom to put more layers of color on top. The easier the first colors are laid out, the easier it is to paint over them.
So you can decide after the first application of paint whether the colors should stay that way – or whether you want to change something completely again.
To apply a light, delicate layer of paint, dilute your watercolors with plenty of water before applying them. The more water is added, the more delicate the colors become.
My tip: Start with lighter colors and work your way up from layer to layer into the darker and more intense. This leaves you with the greatest possible scope in the entire painting process.
Watercolor tip No. 2: This is how you can create color gradients
Color gradients are one of the greatest challenges in watercolor painting, especially for beginners. But be courageous – it’s not that difficult and with a little practice you can create the most beautiful transitions from one color to another!
My first recommendation:
Apply the colors mixed with plenty of water. The moister they are, the easier the colors run into one another. If you’re struggling with color gradients, most of the time it’s really because the colors are too dry.
I also advise you to use a thicker brush! It is much easier to create the gradients with a wide brush than with a thin brush. Moisten the brush with a little water and use it to go over the areas where the colors should run into each other. Just paint from one color to the other again. The transition is so gentle, as if by itself!
Watercolor tip # 3: take breaks and let the colors dry!
I know you are in the flow and you absolutely want to paint your picture “in one piece”. I know impatience all too well and I also hate to take breaks while painting. But they are so valuable!
On the one hand, breaks help you to perceive your picture from a different perspective and to see the big picture again instead of small details. This will make it a lot easier for you to continue painting. On the other hand, you give the colors time to dry!
You make the colors shine more if you apply them to dry surfaces. All too often it happens otherwise that your beautiful, bright yellow runs into, for example, the not yet dry purple – and you have brown, dull dirt on the paper 😉 If the drying of the colors does not go fast enough for you – use the hairdryer! This is also my best friend when I want to put several layers of paint on top of each other quickly and without long waiting times.
Watercolor tip No. 4: Dare to try larger formats!
Maybe you think you should try watercolor painting on smaller paper first – it is cheaper after all and you do not “lose” as much if you start small and the picture does not work 😉 But the opposite is much easier!
It’s best to use a large format from the start. Because painting with watercolors is so much easier when you have more space for it. Then you don’t need to get lost in tiny details or meticulously paint out small shapes. Color gradients and effects are also much easier if you allow yourself large paper.
I advise you to at least A4 size when you start. My favorite is the Hahnemühle Britannia matt watercolor pad in 24 x 32 cm size . *
Now, of course, I also paint a lot in smaller formats. But especially when you want to try out and get to know a lot, the bigger paper is your friend!
Watercolor tip no.5: How to correct small mistakes!
Something quickly went wrong: Suddenly there is a splash of paint where it shouldn’t be, you accidentally painted over a line or simply chose the wrong color or a color that is too dark or too intense.
No stress! 🙂 Even in watercolor painting, you can iron out a lot – and it’s very easy! Let the affected area dry first. Then take a brush and moisten it with a little water. Then you go with this watery brush (without paint) on the affected area and paint on it as if you were applying paint. You will see how the color can be removed again!
If you want to increase the effect, then dab the area where you “removed” the color with a paper towel. You will be amazed that the paper can even be turned white again in this way!
But please be gracious with small mistakes that happen: It is often the coincidences that make the picture afterwards! You can just leave a lot of things and continue painting – and you’ll be amazed at how your picture develops!
I hope that with these tips I can make watercolor painting a little easier and encourage you to use the colors. With each picture you become more confident and a lot of what you think about at the beginning will eventually become very playful!
All the best for you – and happy painting!