Take Your Watercolor Painting To A New Level: Five Essential Tips

Watercolor is very capricious but highly addictive. I think that everyone who uses this medium has exclaimed at least once, ‘These paints are going to make me crazy! I’m done!’ – and reached for them again in a few days…

Here are five simple tricks to turn your ‘last time’ watercolor up to a higher level of proficiency.

Experiment With Brushes

You probably have a pair of great paintbrushes that behave predictably and allow you to face almost any challenge. They’re your best friends. Alas, they are your worst enemy as well.

I know from experience: the temptation to prefer the favorite brush to all the others is so strong that the untested tools might wait for your attention indefinitely.

Be creative – find out what different brush tips are capable of.

Don’t Be Afraid Of A Big Working Surface

Looking at a large piece of paper, you may think it will take too much effort to cover such an area with marks, right?

Nothing like that! On the contrary, a big sheet simplifies the matter.

A4 size makes you calibrate each mark, concentrating on fine details. A3 paper provides space for bold strokes.

Avoid Using Black

Beginners often mix black paint with the other colors and do get darker tones, however, at what cost? The layers of aquarelle lose opacity – as a result, the artwork seems dirty.

Put the tube of the most insidious paint out of sight.

When it’s necessary to shade an element, blend relatively weak colors like blue, green, or brown, and use them. In a short time, you will see they fully meet your needs.

Unify Your Picture

Aquarelle is a water-soluble medium, even after you have applied it to a surface. Blur the colors with a big clear brush from time to time in order to get rid of too rude boundaries. Just bear in mind that the paper has its breaking point. The cheaper your paper, the quicker it will be spoilt.

Another way to unify a watercolor artwork is adding a very soft tint – for example, yellow – to the whole image.

Stop Trying To Completely Subdue This Medium

You needn’t control each stroke. Let your paints show their character when spreading on the wet paper. View the unexpected marks as an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

True watercolor painting is inconceivable without spontaneous effects: they, unlike flawless marks, evoke emotions.

Some ‘surprises’ can be out of place, that’s true. Your two-hour efforts may go down the drain because of a little smudge.

Well, art is not cakes and ale. It always entails the risk of failure.


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Natalia Usanova
I am a poet and an amateur artist. A few years ago, it seemed to me creating works of art is a much more important occupation than reading books, visiting galleries, or listening to music. Now I don't think so. Let me share with you the masterpieces which have changed my life and can change yours. Follow me on Twitter!

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