Tips to Paint Better in Watercolor

Watercolor is one of the most popular mediums for painters, and it's easy to see why. Using light layers of paint for a work creates a space for artists to play with color. There are a lot of techniques artists use to create a quality watercolor painting, and all artists no matter their skillset are encouraged to try them all out.

You can check out more in-depth instruction on watercolor painting techniques here. Or, if you have less time on your hands, you can read our summarized tips for artists below.

1. Use the Proper Paper

Watercolor paints rely on the artist adding water to pigment to get the transparent effect. If you are painting on paper, you should make sure that the paper is thick enough to handle a lot of water. Proper watercolor paper is at least 140 lb cold press (300 gsm). If you use regular printer paper for a watercolor painting, be prepared to deal with severe warping.

2. Take Care of Your Brushes

Your brushes are the most important tool in your arsenal, and it's important to take proper care of them so colors don't bleed from one painting to the next. Fortunately, taking care of watercolor brushes is relatively easy. When you are finished, wash your brushes with mild soap until the paint is gone and the water you use to rinse them runs clear. Reset the brush tip with your fingers and let it air dry.

As a helpful tip, use the side of the brush to paint instead of the tip. This helps preserve the brush so it lasts longer!

3. Paint from Light to Dark

Each layer of watercolor paint is transparent, which means painting a light color on a dark color has very little effect. When starting out, paint with the lightest colors first, and gradually get darker as you go. This helps preserve the white spots on your canvas or paper so they stand out more.

A tip for beginners: plan what you will be painting before starting. If you identify the light areas and the dark areas before you start, your painting will look more polished at the end.

4. Mix More Paint Than You Plan on Using

Mixing your own colors is the surest way to get the shade of your vision. If you go this route, mix more of one color than you anticipate using. The more often you attempt to recreate a color, the more likely that later attempts at mixing will not resemble the original shade. You can avoid this problem by mixing more than you anticipate using, within reason of course. You don't want to use an entire tube of blue for a color that you mean to be an accent.

5. Experiment!

Finally, don't be afraid to experiment! Watercolor paints act differently depending on the pigment-to-water ratio. There is also a plethora of tools, brushes, and techniques painters use to get the effect they desire. The only sure way to know what will be right for your painting is by trying out all the techniques at your disposal. If you want to get to see what sorts of techniques can be used for watercolor painting, click here.

Further Reading

Featured Image by Eleonora Catalano on Unsplash