How to Paint Watercolors
Art Suppies Needed
- Watercolor Paints
- Watercolor Paper or Arches Watercolor Paper Block (I prefer Arches, 100% Rough, 140 lb)
- Watercolor Paintbrushes (Art Sets with a Variety of Brush Sizes)
- Fan Watercolor Paintbrushes
- Flat Watercolor Paintbrushes
- Round Watercolor Paintbrushes
- Watercolor Brush Cleaners
- Watercolor Brush Holders
- If you plan to stretch your paper you will need; Masking Tape and Gummed Brown Tape , Staple Gun, Wood Flat Board, Two sponges. * See below for instructions.
Let's Get Started...
- Step 1: Find an inspirational image to paint and sketch it out on a piece of paper. I find this step very important because you could be working on the painting for a long time and you don't want to be bored creating your new painting.
- Step 2: Transfer your image onto your stretched watercolor paper. Use a soft lead pencil (I prefer a H), to sketch in the background objects: flowers, hills, mountains, distant plants. The background objects are typically smaller and have less detail than objects in the foreground.
- Step 3: You can use frisket films, masks, and/or gum to mask of areas of the watercolor painting. This is a personal decision, I only use a small amount of fisket gum on my paintings for special areas.
- Step 4: Prepare your paints by squeezing paints from tubes onto palette. If you use cake paints then you will need to add clean water to each cake and let them soak for a few minutes before using.
- Step 5: Now you can mix up your paint colors on a tray, plate or pallette.
- Step 6: Angle your board before you start painting on it.
- Step 7: Now comes the fun part, painting!
- There are many types of techniques to paint watercolors, I will only give you a few suggestions below.
- - Use the angle of the board to pull the paint in different directions (let gravity pull the water and color).
- - Experiment with different techniques (wet-into-wet, wet-on-dry, and drybrush).
- - To create clouds, I like to blot the sky with a crumpled tissue while the paint is still wet.
- - I like to use a flat brush to dampen the sky areas.
- - Paint your sky while the paper is damp and also mirror the color below on the ground.
- - Mix your paint with more water to create softer, lighter hues and use less water to create darker, more vivid colors and harder edges.
- - I believe patience is the key to painting watercolors, otherwise your painting could appear overworked and muddy. I suggest to wait until the watercolor paper is dry or almost dry to paint additional details.
- Step 8: Allow your finished painting to dry completely, before you remove it from the board.
- Step 9: Store your completely painting in a dark dry place, out of direct sunlight. I like to use a large portfolio that has acid fee paper within its sleeves.
- Step 10: When I decide to frame them, I will use a sturdy frame that has Plexiglas® plastic glazing and an acid free matting.
* Preparing Watercolor Paper
Step 2: To prepare your watercolor paper, just soak one sheet in cold water for a couple of minutes. I have also used a spray bottle to moisten the paper evenly. This step will allow the fibers in the paper to expand.
Step 3: Then, lift the sheet of watercolor paper and gently shake off the excess water. Then place the paper on a drawing wood board, which must be lying flat. Step 4: Smooth the paper out with a clean sponge. If the sheet of watercolor is paper not perfectly smooth at this stage, it won't dry smooth, so make sure there are no bubbles under the surface.
Step 5: I then staple the paper down at the edge of the board, moisten a strip of gummed tape and stick it down firmly over the staples along one side (so that one third of the tape is on the paper and two-thirds on the board). This will stop the watercolor paper pulling off the board when it dries.
Step 6: Leave the paper to dry for several hours, away from direct heat. As the water evaporates, the fibers in the paper contract, leaving the sheet of watercolor paper flat. Step 7: Keep the board flat while the watercolor paper dries, otherwise the water will drain to one edge and the paper will drive unevenly.
Step 8: When you paint on the watercolor paper, it'll stay flat because you won't ever soak the whole piece as much as you did in step one.
TipsI recommend not to use hot water to soak your watercolor paper as this could remove the sizing from the paper, and not to soak it for too long for the same reason. Sizing is added to watercolor paper to reduce its absorbency
Use soft clean sponges for smoothing a piece of paper and moistening gummed tape so you never run the risk of getting gum on your sheet of watercolor paper
Watercolor board can be used instead of stretching paper on a flat board, I like to use Arches 100% Rough, 140lb for smaller paintings