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Watercolour Tips

A Lele | Thursday 1 May 2014 ( 0 Comment)

Using watercolours is seemingly very simple. Add water to the paints and use a paintbrush to put the paint on paper. However, there are mistakes beginners make that stop them from achieving what they had hoped and which can sometimes be very off putting.

Tips and tricks for beginners can be found online, or in various books. Here are a few to help you avoid making some of those common mistakes and to make learning to paint with watercolours an enjoyable and exciting journey.

Lighter Dry Colour
Description: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/JIMXCVqZC0iJzvAYAp2K5C_Z-eG-AD_MmmxIbW_8po0F57uQXFFtS_yymicpMENIYtDVnDdY9WhtCM5Wyn7fSNEuKKb9FJO-CE7nGdqq5OX8CtMiu_J6WUfEog
People often forget that when watercolour paints dry they always look less intense than when they are wet.

The only way to get a true feel for how the paint will dry is through experience and practice. If you are unhappy with the colour of your work once it has dried however, it is possible to add a further layer to the painting, using less water and more paint in your mix.

Colour Test

As watercolours are quick drying it is possible to test colours on a separate piece of paper before using it in your actual painting. This will give you a good idea as to whether you have achieved the tone you were hoping for, or whether it is necessary to add more water or paint to make it darker or lighter.


Watercolour paint continues to be water soluble even when dry. Adding water will effectively turn the watercolour back to paint. This is great as it allows you to correct or 'lift' mistakes, make colours lighter or even change the shade completely by mixing in new paint.

Care should be taken not to do this too much however, as the surface of the paper may get damaged, effectively ruining all your hard work.

It also pays to remember that watercolours are soluble when moving and cleaning around your work, as spilling anything on it may ruin it.


It is very hard to hide mistakes when using watercolours as the paint is so transparent. However, don't let this put you off, instead modify your technique and go with what you have painted, even if it is not exactly what you were expecting to end up with.

Light First Rule

Generally, lighter colours should be laid down first when painting with watercolours, using the light paper as a base and working up through the tones. However, this approach doesn't work for all artists, so don't be scared to experiment.

Good Quality Brush

Your paintbrush is an incredibly important tool and as such, investing in one or two really good ones will do wonders for your painting technique. Quality brushes do not shed hairs and retain their shape more easily. Brushes and other art supplies can easily be found online, such as here http://www.jacksonsart.com.

Dry the Brush in Between Washes

Always dab the brush on paper or cloth when you have washed it, or risk accidentally adding more water to your paint. This can be frustrating if you have worked to achieve the perfect tone.

Watercolour Paper

Watercolour paper varies in a number of ways, from thickness, to colour and how smooth it is. Experiment with different types and brands to work out which ones work well for you and your technique.

Image attributed to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/vighi/2111380375/


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