Have you ever wanted to try your hand at watercolor painting? It's more than just a beginner-friendly medium, but an exciting and rewarding one too. From choosing the right supplies and finding ideas for projects, to mastering the fundamentals of color theory and composition, getting proficient in this art form can feel like quite a challenge. With a few of these simple tips on how to get started in watercolor painting, you'll find yourself creating beautiful works of art in no time!
In this guide, we will show you how to get started with watercolor painting. We'll discuss what supplies are needed, where to find creative ideas for your artwork and how to apply the basics of watercolor painting in your own style. Whether you’re an experienced artist or just starting out, this guide will provide all the information needed to create stunning watercolor paintings from home
Watercolor painting is an incredibly rewarding and creative hobby. It allows you to express your unique artistic vision in a way that few other mediums can. Whether you are an experienced artist or someone who is just starting out, watercolor painting can provide hours of fun and relaxation.
The Basics - Supplies:
Getting started with watercolor painting requires some basic supplies, such as paints, brushes, paper and most importantly -- Water! Although there are many different options available, it's important to choose the right supplies for your specific needs. Additionally, having some ideas of what you want to create will help make sure that your experience with watercolor painting is enjoyable and productive. With the right tools and inspiration in hand, anyone can get started in watercolor painting.
Watercolor paper is especially important as it is durable, absorbent, and can withstand some beatings from a brush, and multiple washes. Painting with watercolor on any other paper is going to be messy, and the paper will tear very easily. If you are just getting started you can find some very cheap, and easy to use paper at your local art supply store like Michael's. For beginners, I definitely recommend avoiding expensive 300 lb. paper as you are going to be making a lot of playful paintings (and lots of happy accidents) and will need some cheap paper to get through your initial stages of learning. It's best to shoot for 140lb Cold Press Paper such as Canson's XL Watercolor Paper.
Don't worry if you are just getting started, the weight of different papers will become clear to you as you get experience with painting more. For now, just try to avoid any paper under 140lbs. and you will be able to put down some decent washes, and be painting masterpieces in no time.
Starting out painting in watercolor can be daunting on your first trip to the art supply store. There are just so many varieties of paints to choose from! Blocks, palettes, cakes, tubes, wet-dyes, pencils, you name it there's hundreds of different styles of watercolor paints!
In this artist's opinion, it's best to start with the original style of liquid tube paints. Originally, artists used to grind up naturally colored vegetables, flowers, stones, and fruits mixed with egg to color their palettes. We have come quite a long way since then. Simply the easiest to paint with, and the most fluid, these liquid paints in a tube will give you the quickest, freshest large washes of vibrant colors so you can be painting like a pro in no time. I would recommend starting with a beginner set such as the Winsor and Newton Cotman set. This set will last you a long time, as you will only need a dollop of paint to get large, vibrant, and juicy washes! A pro-tip for beginners, don't be afraid to use a good bit of paint from time to time. Vibrant colors make for stunning visuals.
Arguably the hardest material to choose, and the most varietal, we can make this super easy for you. You will only need three brushes to get started with watercolor painting. Those are a Small, Medium, and Large Round brush. That's it! So simple even a kindergartner can remember. The large round brush will be for applying lots of water and pigment to create backgrounds, and large washes of color. The medium round brush will apply all sorts of mid-tone values to your paintings defining the scene. And finally, the small round brush will be to paint little details and shapes that add to the final marks of your painting. It's that easy to get started with brushes. I would definitely recommend this beginner set to make your life easier when you are getting started with watercolor. It actually comes with 5 brushes, a large, two mediums, and two smalls so you can choose which size you like as you become more familiar with how they create brushstrokes across your page.
And last, but definitely not least:
For painting any size painting I recommend having TWO water basins. One with fresh water, and one for the dirty-paint water. The trick is to initially wet your brush in the clean water, grab some pigment, and rinse your brush in the dirty paint water. The clear water is first, then you pick up pigment with your brush to ensure clean, vibrant washes on your paper. Finally, you rinse in your dirty-wash basin. Once you finish with one color, it's as easy, as rinse, rinse, repeat!
If you think watercolor is for you, check out the recommended shopping list and see if you find comfort in creating some colorful magic at home:
Where do I find Inspiration?
Quite simply, the answer is EVERYWHERE! Human beings are naturally creative, and we can see beauty in even the most mundane of objects.
Find yourself staring in awe at the sunrise or sunset? Paint it!
Eyes lingering on the way the light is coming through your curtains? Paint it!
Do you love your pets? Paint them!
Love the sky on your way to work in the morning? Snap a picture and paint it!
The best way to get better at painting, is to paint things that challenge you, but that are also beautiful. Don't worry about capturing all the details, watercolor is not about that, especially not at first. It's about letting the flow of water carry the beautiful colors you see, and emotions you feel into the hearts of others.
Have fun painting, but most importantly, be kind to yourself, and let the process carry you away!
Watercolor painting is a creative activity that can be used as a form of meditation. It has been found to be effective in helping people find inner peace, reduce stress, and improve mental health. Watercolor painting provides an opportunity to express yourself without having to worry about the judgment of others. It is an empowering activity that can help people focus on their own journey and find solace, and mindfulness in the process of creating art.
Benefits of Mindfulness
If you're new to the art of mindfulness, you may be wondering what exactly it is and how it can benefit your life and watercolor painting. Mindfulness can help you reduce stress, have better focus and attention, improve your self-esteem, and enjoy life more by being more present in the moment. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to observe your thoughts without judgement, giving you greater insight into your feelings and emotions. This can be extremely beneficial to watercolor painting, as it can help you become more aware of the small details that make up the world and your brushstrokes. Mindfulness can also help you tap into your creativity, allowing you to explore your emotions and discover a sense of purpose. When you're in a state of mindfulness, you're able to step back and observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgement, allowing you to gain new insight and perspective.
Mindfulness is a practice that can bring peace and stability to your life. It can help you to develop your focus and concentration, allowing you to better cope with daily stress and anxiety. But it isn’t always easy to access this mental clarity, and many people find it difficult to practice mindfulness on their own.
That’s why, for many, learning how to unlock the power of mindfulness through watercolor painting can be a great way to get started. Watercolor painting is a creative process that can be used to channel your thoughts and feelings, allowing you to express yourself in a way that is both calming and satisfying. It can help you to focus and explore your inner thoughts, while also providing a safe space to practice mindfulness in a creative way. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced painter, unlocking the power of mindfulness through watercolor painting can be an incredibly rewarding experience.
As a form of meditation, watercolor painting can help individuals become more mindful and aware of their thoughts and feelings. This type of self-reflection can lead to greater emotional intelligence and better overall mental health.
Exploring Color Combinations and Shapes
As you bring mindfulness into your watercolor painting, you can explore the infinite color combinations and shapes around you. This can help you become more aware of the small details that make up the world and your brushstrokes.
To get started, follow these steps:
- Look around you -
As you paint, try to look around you and observe the colors and shapes that make up your surroundings. Notice what colors are around you, and try to see the color combinations. Look at the shapes around you and see if they have any hidden meanings.
- Pick a few colors to explore -
After you've observed the colors and shapes around you, pick a few colors to explore on your palette. Try to choose a few colors (usually I stick with 3-5 colors so as not to confuse the viewer, and to focus deeply) that catch your eye and make you curious, as these are the ones that want to be expressed through your painting.
- Experiment with shapes -
Once you've selected your colors, explore the shapes they create on your palette. Notice how the shapes are connected and how they interact with one another. After you've observed the shapes on your palette, choose one that stands out to you and makes you curious. Try to pick a shape that has a hidden meaning, a personal meaning for you, and let it inspire you to create a beautiful piece of art.
- Explore the shape -
Once you've chosen a shape to explore, try to use the shape to inspire your painting, and let it guide you along the way. Let the shapes and colors that you have chosen form naturally without pressure, and in a manner that flows freely with your body and spirit.
Tying it all together
Watercolor painting is a beautiful and calming art form that can help you tap into your mindfulness. Through this art medium, you can explore and express your inner thoughts and emotions, as well as gain a better understanding of yourself and the world around you. By slowing down, taking a few deep breaths, and focusing on the present moment, you can unlock the power of mindfulness through watercolor painting. As you paint, you can explore varying color combinations and shapes, allowing you to become more aware of the small details that make up the world. As you become more mindful of your surroundings, you can use watercolor painting as a way to connect with yourself and your environment. With each brushstroke, you can feel the power of mindfulness radiating through you, allowing you to create a beautiful work of art that expresses your innermost thoughts and feelings.
Watercolor painting is an excellent way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. It can be used as an effective form of meditation that helps to reduce stress, improve mental health, and empower one’s creativity.
Watercolor painting can be used as a tool for calming the mind and body by focusing on the present moment. Through this type of art, one can gain insight into their innermost thoughts and feelings while learning how to express themselves creatively in a safe environment. This type of meditation can be beneficial for both experienced painters and beginners alike. By taking time out to focus on their artwork, individuals can learn how to manage their emotions in a constructive way while also gaining confidence in their own creative abilities.
I know for me personally, painting provides an immense, and profound sense of peace. I lose all thoughts and submit myself to the flow of water. In essence, ridding myself of the shackles of the constant flow of thoughts and giving my whole being over to the flow of water.
Watercolor painting can be used to help reduce stress, improve concentration, and even boost self-esteem. It can also be used to express emotions in a creative way. By combining the calming effects of water with the freedom of expression found in painting, individuals can find a sense of inner peace and mental clarity that is paralleled by no other activity. Watercolor painting as a form of meditation is becoming increasingly popular among people looking to improve their mental health and mindfulness. This type of art provides an opportunity for self-expression while allowing one to focus on the present moment and practice mindfulness techniques. Through this process, individuals can gain the tools needed to better manage their stress levels and lead healthier lives. I heavily encourage anyone interested in exploring their mental health to pickup a paint brush, stop judging yourself, and have some fun!
+150 pages of hand-typed journal entries.
+ dozens of new paintings.
+++ huge growth, and change in my artwork and personal outlook on life
This book has been a boon to my artistic self, my inner healing, and my ability to be an artist. I begin to question my motives, my raison d’etre if you will. I started countless projects and finished writing almost half a novel of thoughts and hopes. I was commissioned several times, and have been entered into galleries.
This is all only in 90 days!
I am confident through this program now that:
I am an artist. Always have been.
I can write a book. If I keep writing, I can write many books. I have no doubt that is coming in my future.
Julia Cameron has inspired me to connect with myself and my inner artist in a way that I have never been exposed. Through self-care, and nourishment of my own self, she is enabling me to be a better artist, and a better person.
I can’t recommend this book enough. You should try it, and see what happens.
"The creative process is one of surrender, not control" - Julia Cameron
The Artist's Way: (Link)
I have tried so many self-help books over my lifetime it’s insane. The Artist’s Way is the only one that I have ever seen that has effected my very core cognitive behavior in such a visceral way. I have completely restructured the way I think in an effort to produce more incoherence in my artwork.
I want to get messier, to paint things the way I feel, and see rather than paint the objects I am seeing. I want to paint my feelings about the objects. And, translating anguish into a particular shade of blue, or happiness into a warm shadow is very freaking tough.
As it turns out, trying to paint how I feel about subjects is creating realism in my paintings through observation, and representation. Removing the physical aspect of the objects I am trying to paint, and feeling only the light, shape, color, and value. Trying so hard to paint things as you see them is an illusion. It is an effort to brighten the paintings on the cave wall, rather than to escape the cave imprisoning your creativity. You must paint them as they are in the unconscious. As they are in the realm of dreams and illusion.
In every way, I recommend doing this for yourself. Do the work, fill the well of your creative outlet, and walk the spiritual path to becoming closer to your inner creator.
The Artist's Way: (Link)
Drugs. Can your spirit take drugs? Can your soul be addicted to pain and self-harm? In my opinion, Fame and Competition are designer drugs for the soul. The moment I start painting to get famous, or painting to get competitive with another artist, or to “be” better than someone, I get tired. I get so, so tired. Tired in my soul.
There’s a reason for that. Competition in art, is artificial. It is a drug designed to fuel your subconscious for a short-term sprint that leaves a long-term scar. Creativity is meant to be a connection from your subconscious to God, or the great creative force, or whatever you’d like to call the universe around you.
There is no competing with God, or the universe. Not on our scale anyways. Paint because your heart sings. Make music because your soul cries. Dance because your spirit soars. Whatever you are creating, do it with your whole being, and do it for yourself.
“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing, does the painter do good things”
Remembering how to play with yourself is actually really freaking hard! How long has it been since you took out that box of legos? Since you picked up a video game controller? Since you put together a puzzle!
For me, remembering that art = play is crucial in creating beautiful, and yes, SERIOUS works of art. The best thing about waking up sometimes is that I get to grab some colors and splash around on whatever I want. I can create a new world or try with all my might to capture some of the beauty of this one.
For a while during this program a little voice has muttered in the back of my mind:
“Are you more comfortable fearing success despite your failures, or being a victim of your own artist’s block?”
It’s not an easy question. It has taken 9 weeks of introspection and study to answer.
And the answer is:
I am more comfortable being afraid of the unknowns of success in creating, than I am being a victim of my own stubborn willpower to resist creating. I am more willing to try, over and over, and over again when something doesn’t feel right than I am willing to quit. Creative success is built by creative failures. It is built upon the bones of creative failures. How we survive these creative failures will determine our success in the future. If you resist the urge to do any work, you won’t actually get anywhere. So, despite your failures, keep trying. Master chefs cut many of their own fingertips before they became masters.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage”
The Artist's Way: (Link)
We spend a lot of time measuring things. We measure our self-worth, we measure time, measure food, we measure everything! A measurement isn’t any good without a decent frame of reference. A lot of artists make the mistake of referencing masterworks of master artists, and measuring themselves against masters’ most profound works! I am one of those artists.
But, I have learned that my measurements were all sorts of messed up. Measuring like that is a sure way to succeed at feeling like a failure. That’s an awful frame of reference. We can’t measure ourselves against master’s masterpieces. We need their student work to see the growth, and struggle through that growth that these masters endured.
Just remember as you make art, and grow, that real criticism feels good. Blanket irrational statements that can’t be directly refuted aren’t criticism. They’re an opinion! Encouragement is an essential nutrient for your soul as an artist. Encourage yourself, and do the work that you know you need to do. Stop resisting the flow of the universe. It wants you to be the best you.
"No trumpets sound when the important decisions of our life are made. Destiny is made known silently."
~Agnes De Mille
The Artist's Way: (Link)
I don’t even know where to begin. I have made more art in the past few weeks, than I have in the past few years. I have been painting and thinking about painting non-stop so much that I am dreaming about being paint.
I had this dream this week where I was deep ocean-blue paint running down the page, mixing with water in the most beautiful way. It feels incredible to bring this out, even if I am not doing it so well. I don’t mind that so much anymore, and eventually I will be painting masterfully.
I still want to encourage you, if you’re reading, to do as much artwork as you can. Don’t judge yourself, and let the creativity become something on its own. Try to nudge the water where it wants to go, but realize that it is alive, and also has a will of its own. Help the paint go where it wants, the notes where they feel, and let the experience of being alive come out of your work. Try to see into the dream world, and bring the artwork that you know exists there into 3D reality.
“We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.”
~Agnes de Mille
The Artist's Way: (Link)
This program is so.....so...hard. After learning Spanish, Chinese, several programming languages, and teaching myself electrical engineering, I have never pushed myself as hard in something which should be so simple.
I am an artist, and always have been. My subjects were unfocused, but I am getting a clearer and clearer image everyday of where I am being guided. Guided by the universe, by fate, by god, whatever you want to call the invisible hand guiding our decisions. The geometric structure of the universe responds to your vibrations. Like an opera singer shattering a crystal glass, the universe reacts to your thoughts, and constructively increases the harmony, or disharmony that you emanate. Isaac Newton describes this in classical mechanics where each action has an equal and opposite reaction. Once you accept yourself, and move towards your greater harmony, the universe will pick up the rest.
All my life I have been told by society, family, authority, that art wasn’t a way to make a living or career. That is absolutely, one hundred percent bull-fooey. You can do this.
You can make art, and you should.
Even if you think it sucks.
The Artist's Way: (Link)
This week has been mentally difficult. Extreme swings of mood, and introspective isolation are something to be expected from practicing this book, and the morning pages sure do deliver what they promise. It's a worthy practice.
Sometimes I limit myself because it’s so hard to believe that anyone could find my work appealing, or at best, purchase-worthy. The Artist’s Way is creating a path inwardly towards acceptance. Acceptance that I can work until I am masterful at something. I can be focused enough to be masterful in my artwork, then I can be focused enough to master my inner turmoil, and accept my own spirit.
Week 5 is all about accepting that our limits are self-imposed due to the past experiences of life. Be they traumatic, or blissful, they all have shaped the person that we strive to be. We don’t paint that big painting because we’re scared it will be too hard, or it will look ugly. We don’t ask for a raise because we are scared of retribution, or we don’t ask out that person because we are afraid they’ll say no. My whole life I have been saying "fuck that" to that notion. EXCEPT for in my artwork. I have always been the “fuck that” guy when it comes to malevolent authority, and assholes in general. But, for some reason my artwork has always held this power over me that I could never see. I am starting to peel that away and I am coming for you Van Gogh! So say it with me when I say:
Well fuck that!
Do the shit you are holding yourself back from. Because in those moments of bliss, romance, and despair you will find your art. You will see what it is that the universe is and has been showing you, and you will connect to yourself.