Watercolor Painting Tips

Watercolors have a reputation of being a very fun and carefree art medium. But some artists will say that it was not always that way.

Watercolors can be tricky, often uncontrollable and unpredictable—but in the best way possible.

If you’re ready to tackle the beast that is watercolor painting, here are some tips to help:

watercolor painting of flowers1. Watercolors dry lighter

If your color looks really bold on paper, don’t panic!

Once they dry, they will “calm down” a bit.

However, if you are looking for a bolder color, try using more paint and less water.

2. Test your color somewhere

Watercolor paints dry pretty quickly so there’s not a lot of time to waste.

Be sure to test out all of your colors before starting your piece so that you know you’re getting the tone and hue you’re after.

3. Mix more than enough paint

As you test out your colors, it’s essential that you mix enough paint to last your entire painting session.

Why?

Well, this type of painting makes it hard to mix a color the same way twice. So, once you’re out of that color, you’re either out or you have to start over.

Don’t find yourself faced with this ultimatum – mix more paint than you may need!

4. The more water, the lighter the paint

The more water you add to your paint, the lighter and thinner it will look.

Try not to add too much water though!

If you have just cleaned your brush, then dab it on a clean, dry towel instead. This will allow you to better control how much water is on your brush and will keep you from accidentally using too-light of a color.

5. Add water make dry paint wet again

Once your paint has dried, you can wet it again to turn it back into paint.

This is useful in case you make a mistake or need to blend different colors together. However, if you scrub at the surface too zealously, then you can risk damaging the surface.

watercolor brush strokes

6. Remember watercolors are transparent

You can see different layers that have been made, as well as mistakes.

Don’t get discouraged by this!

Embrace them—it might even encourage you to go a different direction with your masterpiece.

7. Paint from light to dark

Often it is advised when doing a watercolor painting that you start off with the lighter colors and then move to the darker shades.

The white to make the lighter colors is actually paper and not paint, so you have to work with the white space that is available to you right off the bat.

8. Plan your white spaces

Speaking of white space, you don’t want to accidentally cover it all. Instead, have a loose plan beforehand and map out where you’ll need to keep white showing for the future layers of your painting.

9. Not all watercolor papers are the same

They may come in different shades of white or even a slightly yellow color, so if you find there is a certain kind you like, its best to stick with that.

If you try out a new kind, then make sure to test your colors on that type of paper to see how it will come out before diving into a new creation.

10. Be aware of buckling paper

If you start your water coloring on a thinner piece of paper, there is a good chance you may experience buckling.

This is because the paper can’t handle the amount of water you’re applying to it.

A good way to avoid this is to stretch your paper out first and make sure you’re getting the right art supplies!

watercolor floral painting

11. Paint with the sides of your brushes

It may sound unnatural, but watercolor painting is most successful when the artist paints using the side of their brush.

This also extends the lifespan of your brushes, keeping the tip away from that harsh water color paper.

12. Explore the wet vs. dry techniques

When you take to the page, you will either be painting “wet on dry” or “wet on wet.”

Two very different techniques, painting on dry paper will be more controllable, resulting with defined edges. Painting on wet paper will make your art piece more fluid with less control over where the paint will end up on the page.

13. Take a watercolors class

Whether you’re a beginner looking for help with watercolor techniques or an avid painter that may want to refresh their skills, a watercolors class can benefit all skill levels.

At Hunakai Studio, we strive to help each individual discover their strengths, hone their skills and become more confident in their abilities to express their thoughts and ideas through art.

And if you’re interested in learning the building blocks, check out our Intro to Watercolor Techniques!

Contact us today to learn more.