Watercolor is made to be mixed with water! Inside the paint tube is concentrated pigment that needs to get mixed with water before you can paint with it. Once you put the paint on your surface the water evaporates and leaves only the pigment. So, the more water you add to your mixture, the lighter it becomes!
Watercolor paints come in three grades: children’s, student, and artist grade. As you go up in the quality of the grade, the price also goes up. I recommend student grade for beginners. These paints also can come in many forms: dried in a pan, paste in a small tube, or liquid in a glass bottle.
Watercolor paints work best on watercolor paper. This is because watercolor paper lets the paint sit on top of the paper until the water evaporates. This is important because with other more absorbent papers the watercolor will spider web out and be hard to control.
Watercolor brushes are made to hold a lot of water. They can have natural or synthetic bristles and come in many different shapes and sizes. Brushes are often dipped in a starch-like substance by the manufacturer, which makes the bristles hard to protect their shape and condition. So before you use a brush for the first time, rinse it off with water.
Wet Paint on Dry Paper: This technique is done by loading up your brush with watered down watercolor pigment and brushing it evenly across your paper. This is a good technique to use when you want to cover a large area of your canvas with the same shade.
Salt on Wet Paint: Adding salt onto wet paint draws the pigment to where the salt is. For this example I used table salt, but if you use larger salt, such as kosher salt, you will see larger areas of dark spots. For this technique do the same as the wet paint on dry paper and sprinkle the salt on while it is still very wet. After the paint has completely dried you can dust off the salt.
Stencil: Hold or tape down your stencil. The closer you can have your stencil to the paper the less it will bleed outside of the stencil lines. The less paint you have spread on top of the stencil, the cleaner it will look. Carefully pull the stencil off. You can also wait until the paint is dry before you pull the stencil off.
Splatter: Start with dry paper and a paintbrush loaded with wet paint. Use your index finger to bend the bristles of your brush and as they go off your finger they will splatter onto the paper (and the area around it). Repeat as many times as needed. This is messy, but watercolor cleans up easily with water!
Gradient: Make a line of paint that is heavily saturated with pigment. You could also just add paint strait from the tube that has not been watered down yet. Next rinse off your brush and while it still has water on it blend it on your paint line. Rinse your brush off again and blend again moving down on your painted area. Keep repeating this until you have the gradient you want.
Plastic: Add paint onto your paper and while it is still wet bunch up a piece of plastic and hold it on the wet paint until it dries. This leaves an uneven pattern. This works best when done over a larger area. Thinner plastic works better, such as a grocery store bag or the plastic from your Cherry Box items.
Blending 2 Colors: Start by painting one of your colors on half of the area you want covered. On the opposite side paint the other color until it is just barely touching the first color. Rinse out your brush and with water still on it gently blend the two together.
Dry Brush: Although this technique is called dry brush, it is actually bad for your brushes to be 100% dry before you add paint to them. This is a tip for all types of water-based painting; always dip your brush in water before you add any paint to it! To achieve this look you just dry off most of the water from your brush before you dip it in the paint. You also only add small amounts of paint at a time.
Wet on Wet: For this technique you first brush over your paper with water. While your paper is still wet dip your brush in the paint and lightly press it on your paper. It will spider web out across your wet area.
There are plenty more techniques you can try out with watercolors. They are such a fun medium to play with! Tag us in your watercolor projects on social media and post them in our Project Gallery. We love to see what you create!
Thanks for stopping by!
I had a bad experience in oil paint class and have not picked up a brush for over two years. Your watercolor technique email is bringing the painting bug back to life.
Very helpful to a newbie. Thanks