Steps to Take When Watercolor Painting as a Beginner

This year, I’ve been making an effort to try new hobbies and watercolor painting made the list! It seemed to be a painting method that needed more attention to the details than others, which is why watercolor painting as a beginner was intimidating for me.

To make sure I was beginning with the right tools, I did some research on Pinterest. I stumbled upon a post from Lines Across which you can find below. It was a great starting point to make sure I got what was needed to try watercolor painting on my own.

After reading this post, I felt confident watercolor painting as a beginner without paying too much attention to creating a masterpiece. Here’s the steps I took for my first time watercolor painting.

1. Purchase & Gather Your Materials

First, I headed to Michaels after reading the blog for tips on what I needed. Knowing what to look for made it incredibly easy, aside from the hundreds of brushes to choose from.

Although the guide pointed me in the right direction of what to look for, asking one of the sales associates equally helpful. She told me it was best to start with the 8th grade looking paint pallet and the large set of mixed brushes. I walked out of there spending less than $25 on all my painting tools.

Here’s a list of the tools I used to test out watercolor painting:

These were all on the cheaper end of the options. If you’re confident you’ll stick to it, you can discuss more intermediate materials with store associates. The items listed are a great starting point to test how much you enjoy it, as they’re affordable and could be used for other painting techniques too.

2. Get in the Zone

I sat down with my cup of coffee one Sunday morning, got these essentials ready, and put on an acoustic playlist on Spotify. Sometimes, I’ll go with the flow, but it helps me to make sure I’m in the zone with everything set up in a way that’s easy to use.

Next, I pulled up Pinterest for reference. My goal was to find plants, flowers, or some type of nature landscape to paint. There are tons of images that you can find inspiration from on here, find what interests you! Just make sure to set your computer or phone to the side so you’re not all over Facebook the whole time.

I forgot that hobbies can help you get away from the routine and back to enjoying simple things. This set up made me feel excited to try something new without worrying about everything else going on. My materials were ready to go and I was set to start watercolor painting.

3. Make a Light Sketch on Your Paper

To begin, you want to sketch very lightly. This outline will be a great guide for the defined lines of your subject. It’s important that the pencil outline is not too dark as you want to be able to paint over it.

The lines are really just there to help you plan what you’re painting. When done very lightly, the marks are not seen once the painting is complete.

This step is one I take a lot of time on because I like to have lines to paint within. It helps me to know the colors I’ll use too by deciding if I have a flower on a green leaf and knowing what colors to use first.

4. Begin with a Light Layer of Paint Color

Once the sketch is done, take the round brush and start mixing colors. You can’t change watercolor on the page to a lighter color, so be sure to start with the lightest paint color you want to use first.

You’ll want to paint your subject lightly in the areas that may be closest to a light source. For example, look at this round sphere below. The light is coming from the upper right corner which creates the shadow on the bottom left.

You don’t have to pay too much attention to the shadows at first because you will get to that later. Painting lightly will also be the base and the only time you’ll have the light shades to work with.

If you’re changing colors, you’ll want to make sure your brush is completely clean. Twist your brush in a figure 8 motion in your water bowl to get the color out of the bristles. I then like to dab it on my towel to make sure I have the color out and ready to mix my next one.

5. Add in More Color for Definition

Now that you have some light color throughout, it’s time to let it dry a bit. You’re going to begin to add more color slightly by keeping the paint more concentrated (less watery.)

You’ll want to make sure the colors here are blend to appear more natural. Don’t go too dark just yet, but add more of your paint to an area. Then you can apply a darker shade until it blends to your liking.

This step was hard for me because I’m used to adding white to lighten a shade if I messed up. With watercolors that can’t happen. That’s why adding in stages in great to make sure you’re not getting carried away with it being too dark.

6. Final Touches of Color and Let it Dry Completely

You’ll want to let your painting dry completely before adding on finishing touches of color. Then add defined lines and shades on the outer edges or to make a certain area pop. You can go dark with this step or add in color to areas that may need some adjustments. See below.

The Takeaway

Watercolor painting as a beginner is a simple way to add more creativity to your routine. You will learn best by practicing and figuring out what your style is when painting. Starting as a beginner is simple as seen in these steps.

Just be sure to gather your materials, get in the zone, sketch your design and add the color lightly in stages. You’ll be cranking out paintings left and right once you get into it.

You’ll realize that once you know the basics, you’ll embrace the freedom to create pieces that interest you like your dog, house or even some plants for your bedroom decor.

If you want to give watercolor painting as a beginner a try, be sure to check out my Pinterest board for inspiration (not my paintings.) Then tag me @thoughtfulblend so I can see your creations!

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