10 Watercolour Tips for Beginners

1. Get your basic supplies sorted. Start with several brushes in various shapes and sizes, paint, a cup of water, a pencil and eraser (optional), and sturdy paper made specifically for watercolours.

2. Before starting your masterpiece, use painter’s tape to mask out a border around your paper. This creates a crisp white frame around the artwork and peeling it off at the end is so satisfying! Do a test patch first to ensure your tape won’t tear the paper when removed.

3. Select your subject matter. It can be helpful to keep a reference photo handy. Or, push your creativity and set up a still life with things from around your home and use that as your reference. 

4. If you decide to do a preliminary sketch instead of just diving right in with the paints, make sure you use very light pencil marks or they will show through the paint. You can go in after your art has completely dried and gently erase the pencil. 

5. Saturate your brush of choice with water and dab it into the paint. It’s beneficial to apply the watercolours in light layers, allowing to dry in between applications (watercolour dries fast ~ more quickly than acrylic, and MUCH more quickly than oil).

6. Pay attention to where the lights and darks are in your reference photo. Start with a base of your lighter colours and work towards layering the darker ones on top. If there’s an area that is very light or white, keep that area white on your paper too! Not every corner of the paper needs paint. 

7. Experiment with different painting techniques and observe the results. Two very common techniques are wet on wet (using wet paint on wet paper) and wet on dry (wet paint on dry paper).

8. Another thing to explore is your water to paint ratio. Whether you’re diluting the paint with lots of water or choosing to go heavier on the pigment, you can achieve many different effects and moods in your work by implementing the ratio in different ways. 

9. There are endless tutorials online covering watercolour basics, tricks and tips. Watch some videos and paint along with the artists, keeping your mind open to what new things you might learn from the experts along the way. 

10. Experiment! Forgo watching tutorials and block out some time to just play with the paints and get into the flow. Stay light-hearted and joyful as you create. Settle into your artful exploration and cultivate a childlike sense of wonder as you discover the exciting world of watercolour!