10 top tips for painting in watercolours

painting in watercolour

I love to paint in watercolours.  I love the way in which the paint moves and the colours run.  Done well, you can create the most wonderful loose paintings with this exciting and often unpredictable medium.  Here are some tips to help you achieve stunning results:

1. Brushes are important but they don’t have to be expensive ones.  All you really need is two round, two flat and one rigger.  For round brushes I’d suggest a 1 or 2 inch and a 5 inch and flat brushes a 3 inch and a 6 or 7 inch.  Personally, I rarely use a round brush, I prefer to use flat brushes, and I love my rigger!

2. I use nothing less 240gsm paper (otherwise you must stretch it before you start painting).  I tend to use 300gsm.  If the paper does buckle, once you have finished your painting and it has dried, you can damp the back of the painting slightly, cover with a towel and weigh down with some heavy books while it dries out.

3. Use large containers for your water and change the water regularly.  It is the only way to keep colours clean and pure.  I can’t emphasis this enough!

4. Don’t be mean with your paints.  Don’t just squeeze out little bits.  I have often seen washes and paintings ruined because the artist hasn’t mixed enough paint at the outset.

5. Always have paper towels to hand to mop up or lift off some of the paint if you need to.

6. For greater transparency use more water, then while the paper is still damp, drop in more colour for the darker areas and let it mix by itself.  Don’t mess with it or try to mix it in as this leads to muddy work.

7. Don’t be scared.  For example, if you have lost some of the white areas, these can be brought back using opaque white or white acrylic ink.

8. Have a smaller piece of paper handy to test your colours before you commit them to your painting.

9. I always have a selection of different palettes to hand.  Then if the colours start looking muddy on the palette I can quickly grab a fresh one.  I have no time to wash things out once I start painting as I some so totally involved in what I’m doing.

10. Finally, balance in a painting is hugely important.  Don’t use a colour only in one part of the painting.  Make sure you repeat the same colour, or a lighter or darker tone of it, elsewhere in your painting.

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