Watercolor painting for beginners

Watercolor painting for beginners

by Isabella Godberof

Getting to grips with watercolor painting

Have you been dreaming of creating watercolor paintings but have no idea how to get started? Well look no further! You will soon be creating beautiful watercolor paintings that everyone will appreciate.

Watercolor is also known as aquarelle. It is a water-based painting technique, with the color pigments simply suspended in water. Watercolor paintings tend to have a soft appearance, with colors gently blending and melting into one another. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also make a stunning bright, sharp edged abstract painting with watercolors! From wildlife and landscapes, to portraits and architecture, there is no end to the possibilities of the things to paint with watercolors.

Examples of different water color painting styles, including a floral wreath, countryside landscape with buildings, foxes, an abstract portrait and bright, abstract colors

Can you use watercolor on canvas?

Unfortunately not. Watercolor paints are used on specific paper, which is often partially, or entirely, made from cotton. Watercolor paper comes in different absorbances to give different effects when the paint is applied.

So what is the best watercolor paper for beginners?

It is best to start with a 140 lb cold-pressed watercolor paper in either a natural or bright white. 140 lb paper is very common, meaning it’s also easy to find and one of the cheaper types of watercolor paper, but still copes well with heavy “washes” (basically, lots of paint and water). As the weight of the paper increases, so will the price. Remember though, you will probably need to “stretch” (soak) your watercolor paper before using it, whatever the weight you choose. If you don’t, the paper might just buckle when the paint is added. You can then decide to paint on the wet watercolor paper, or wait for it to dry. Using watercolors on wet paper will give softer edges and blended colors. Letting the soaked watercolor paper dry before painting will give you sharper, crisper watercolors.

Can I make watercolor paint myself?

Yes! With a few basic starting materials (cornstarch, baking soda, corn syrup and vinegar) you can make your own watercolor paints at home for very little cost! This is a great idea if you’re having a go at watercolor painting with children.

Are there different types of watercolor paint?

If you are buying watercolor paints, you can get them in tubes or pans. The tubes are already mixed with a small amount of water, and the paint has a toothpaste consistency. To make your watercolor paint, you just dilute this paste with more water. Pans are more like small bars or dried “cakes” of paint. Again, they need diluting in water to use. If you want to invest in a watercolor paint set, here are a few options you might want to consider:

Watercolor paints, available as paste in tubes (left) and solid pans (right)

Easy watercolor ideas for beginners

So, you’ve got your watercolor paint set (whether it is homemade or you’ve bought tubes or pans) and your watercolor paper. Now what? You might be wondering “how can I learn watercolor painting from home”?

To get started, why not look at some easy watercolor paintings of flowers? Worried it’s too much? You could begin with a watercolor coloring book to help you get used to mixing the paints and getting them onto paper. Then, try some easy watercolor paintings to copy. And don’t forget - there are plenty of watercolor tutorials to watch and learn from, whatever subject you want to paint! Why not try a watercolor flower tutorial, or a watercolor portrait tutorial? Struggling to find inspiration? Then check out our gallery of watercolor examples - you’re sure to find something you like!

Feeling more confident? Ready to make an exhibit of your watercolor masterpiece? Then why not make some watercolor postcards? These can easily be turned into greetings cards, making fantastic gifts to show off your new watercolor painting skills!

A homemade thank you card in watercolor paints, with a floral country garden designThere is an endless list of what to paint with watercolors, and many different watercolor painting styles and techniques. And don’t forget that simply using different watercolor paper can give your final piece a whole new look! So what are you waiting for? Start watercolor painting today!

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