Do’s and Don’ts of Painting with Watercolour

Hey everyone,

I’ve got a slightly different style of post today but this is something I wanted to share with you. My favourite medium to work with in art is watercolour paint and I’ll just say now it is a very difficult medium to work with. I don’t think people realise this unless they try it for themselves. For example, with acrylic paint, you kind of know where you are because  the way it behaves is predictable. But watercolour if you’re not careful can have a mind of its own.

So after doing my art GCSE a few months ago (which I got an A* in YAY) I feel like i can bring you some of my own tips that I learnt from using watercolour. My final piece was in watercolour and so was my mock, so after about 6 months of solidly using it, i learnt a lot.

Screen Shot 2017-10-01 at 15.25.13

  • Don’t ever paint with one shade

This is possibly the most important thing. Lets say your painting a green leave and to you it just looks like there is one shade of green in that leave. But there absolutely isn’t. If you paint using one shade of green your painting will look flat, dull and unrealistic. Look at where the light is most present on the leaf, and look at where the shadows are. Really take the time to see all the different colours. You have to build and layer up different tones

  • Start light and work your way up

With watercolour you can’t paint over it because it is translucent. Acrylic is easier in that sense. So if you go straight in with dark colours and realise you needed to go lighter, there won’t be any going back. This also goes back to my first point that if you start light you can slowly build up the colours to what you want and use different tones as you go.

  • Mix your colours

Generally it’s best to do this rather than use the paint straight from the tube. This is because the likelihood of the paint being the same shade of green as your leaf for example, is very slim. So if you are looking for your painting to look realistic, I would recommend mixing and playing around with the colours.

  • Be wary of how much water you use on your brush

Mostly, if you painting big washes of colour (for example you base colour, or background) you want to use more water so that you will cover the whole area with paint easily. For the finer details use less water so that you have more control of the paint. It is easy to forget about this and then you go in to do the fine lines and suddenly the paint bleeds into each other and you’ve ruined your work.

  • Leave time to allow the painting to dry every now and then

This is partly why watercolour can take so long. (The other reason is that it takes a long time to build up the colour.) You need to do this for a few reasons. So if you don’t let the paper dry and you keep making it wetter and wetter, eventually it will start to peel up. To prevent colours bleeding the paper must be dry. However, sometimes allowing the colours to bleed and blend together can be an effect you want so in that situation you wouldn’t want the paper to be dry. That is why you have different methods of applying water depending on the effect you want to create. (e.g. wet on dry or dry on wet).

  • Practise and experiment again and again

The tips I have said so far have all been advice from my teachers and knowledge I have picked up from trying again and again. Eventually you understand and get to know the wonderful medium that is watercolour. But in order to figure out your technique and style that works best for you, you just have to practise.


This is part of a series of watercolour leaves that I painted

That’s it for today! Obviously there are many many more things to watch out for and other tips. But I’ll leave it at 6 things for now and if anyone wants some more art advice just let me know!

CC xoxo







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s