How To Paint Watercolors

In creating the watercolor "The Path Chosen", I used the following basic techniques: Flat wash, graded washglazed wash, dry brush, wet-in-wet, various wet and dry lift techniques, scrafitto, and Grafix® Incredible White Mask liquid frisket. First off, take some time to explore (and bookmark!) this and other watercolor and artist's sites to understand the tools, history, theory, and variety of styles and techniques of other artists. Once you have the basic idea of what's involved in being a watercolorist, you're ready to give it a go. You don't have to know how to draw really well to start to make art. That comes with practice. But all of the beautiful techniques used in creating a watercolor painting can be learned, more or less like any trade that involves a certain set of skills. Each piece of art you make will gradually lead you to your own unique expression and style. It can be marketable, if not satisfying, if your painting skills can allow you to evoke an emotional response from your viewers and patrons. I'd shoot for a good response. The tutorials and lessons found on this site will get you started and perhaps inspire you, as a watercolor painter. We can supply lessons on the craft and skills, but purpose is what is driving you to want to try to create art. What that vision is, is unique for everyone. The footsteps of the path that lies before you are yours to follow until you can find your own path. And lastly, never forget to enjoy the journey!

Prepare to Play: A Basic Artistic Right

Before you learn the skills and craft of painting in watercolor, you must play with your paints, papers, brushes and other tools. Get some cheaper watercolor paper, a glass of water, watercolor paint, and palette. If using cake (hard) or pan (moist) paints, remember to first moisten all your colors with a few drops of water from the tip of your brush or by using a spray bottle. Rinse and charge after each color.

Relax...and Watch What Happens

Grab a brush and dip it in the water, then shake some on your palette to make a puddle. Dip your brush into a color with a twist of the brush and pick up some color. Stir it into the water puddle until it is of uniform color (or not). Charge your brush with this color and test out the color and brush on the paper. Get a feel for how the brush feels in your hand and how different angles affect the resulting stroke. Play with the other colors, brushes, and paper in the same manner. Each color may have unique physical properties that affect how each is mixed. Some paints are clear bright transparent colors. Some are heavy and dense and are almost opaque. Some watercolor paints are grainy and settle into the texture of the paper when they dry. Try lines. Try big splotches of color. Try mixing two or more colors together. Make it wet. Make it dry. Experiment and play. When your water turns murky, replace it with clean water (or use the "2 container technique" to make your water last longer!). Keep your brushes rinsed between colors so you don't pollute the color you are picking up. After you fill up a sheet with your doodling, grab a new sheet or use the back of the first sheet after it dries. Have fun! You are just getting a feel for the materials. Repeat playing with paint as necessary until the zen of watercolor painting sets in or you think you can't use up any more of your materials. You may return to play at any instant in your career as an artist. Playing has been known to help pass the time and alleviate artistic "blocks." That being said, you can now proceed and learn the basic skills and techniques of being a watercolor artist. Or get on with your surfing.
by Greg Conley

September 11th, 2015