How to use watercolors

How To Use Watercolor? Dos and Don’ts

Watercolors are a beautiful technique to explore and a unique medium to practice. Learning how to use watercolor paint is like learning a new language, it is a complex art to master, it takes years to reach the skill level and produce works of your own. But the benefits of learning watercolor are more than its beauty, you gain a newfound respect for nature, a better understanding of colors, and a new appreciation for your thin paper creativity 

Before you dive into the painting side of it, you’ll have to know about a few dos and don’t as well.

This blog will talk about what are the things you have to do and a few things that you’ll have to avoid as a watercolor artist. To know about how to start watercolor art from scratch, read our blog here.

Things to keep in mind before starting watercolor

The most common mistake watercolor artists make is trying to learn too many techniques too fast. Instead, you should focus on learning a few things well, and only gradually building your skills. You should only practice one technique in watercolor at a time. Don’t try to jump to different techniques right away.

A few dos you need to keep in mind while using watercolor paints

1. Practice watercolors on watercolor paper:

Practice watercolors on watercolor paper instead of canvas or a regular blank sheet. Watercolor paper has more texture than canvas or a blank sheet, allowing for more control in your strokes.

Your painting will turn out more realistic. 

Besides the texture, since you’ll be using a lot of water as your base, papers that are thin, might tear while painting. Watercolor papers are thick in texture and hence durable, making it easier to keep the paper safe. Watercolor paper is sold in different thicknesses so choose accordingly.

Using regular paper for watercolor paintings isn’t recommended as it’s going to make it difficult to control the paint since the paint will spread on the surface of the blank sheet. So, choose your paper wisely. This can be a bit tricky if you are just starting in watercolor.

2. Use a good brush:

A good brush is important. It might be the one thing you can’t miss out on before starting watercolors. Choose a brush that fits your hand. Keep in mind that a larger brush tends to hold more water, so choose the right size for you. It might be a bit expensive, but it’ll last for a long time. In a way, a brush is the most important part of your watercolor setup.

Choosing the right brush for you is important. You don’t want a brush that is too soft because it may not hold the pigment well. In addition, if you are a beginner, choose a brush with a wide handle. This is so you can get control over your brush.

3. Prepare your canvas:

Start by preparing your canvas properly. It’s recommended to have a neutral palette, meaning you don’t use any colors other than white as your base color. 

Mix a little amount of white in a bowl of water and move your brush on your watercolor paper. This helps you get the uniform tone of colors that you will be using hereafter. 

Since you’ll be using the thick watercolor paper as your canvas, the first layer of water will make you glide your brush smoothly. You’ll notice that your brush strokes will appear very soft, and will eventually appear to have a slight shine.

4. Sketch your outlines with a colored pencil instead of a charcoal pencil: 

This is a good way to experiment with color and contrast. When painting using watercolors, you need to understand that not all colors will work equally on your paper. Some colors will dry out and others will mix and turn to mush on your paper.

Watercolor paper is a bit thicker than regular paper, so not all colors will work on watercolor paper. Sketch your outlines with a colored pencil so you can find out what works best for you. 

5. Let your paper dry between steps:

It takes time to dry your work and you will need to work very patiently. You should always wait for the paper to dry between each step of your painting. While the paper is drying, you may want to lay it down to rest so it doesn’t shift and get all wonky. 

A list of don’ts you have to keep in mind while working watercolors

6. Don’t squeeze or pinch the bristles when painting

Squeezing or pinching a brush will make the paint dry faster. It is best to use a soft round brush and stroke slowly when using watercolor. 

Try to keep the brush pressure down. This will make it easier to control your brush while painting. Also, never brush the top of your paper, especially in thick watercolor paints. You will find that your brush can easily bend and you will end up making ugly strokes on your paper. 

Remember, you used a lot of water as your first base in the beginning. Brushing the top of your paper will make the paint overflow in unnecessary directions. Your paint won’t stay on the paper, and you’ll end up with an unwanted line that may be difficult to remove. 

7. Never work with hot paint:

The paint will dry faster and you will need to wait for it to cool before moving on to the next step.  Work on a small, cool palette. After that, apply the paint onto your watercolor paper, allowing a dry time of about 10-15 minutes.

8. Do not mix colors when painting:

Be sure to work in very separate colors and let them dry. If you mix colors, the paint will dry unevenly and the result will not be as smooth as if you worked in separate colors. 

9. Do not wipe away any mistakes with a dirty cloth: 

When you are done with your painting, it’s important to wipe away any mistakes you may have made. Watercolor paper is somewhat porous, so if you made a mistake and don’t want to redo it, you can just wipe it away with a tissue or a dry cloth. Do not use an eraser, a piece of paper, or cotton to wipe away your mistakes. This will just make your art mussy and dirty.

Final steps:

Once your watercolor painting is done, it’s time to decide if you want to seal it. Watercolor paints are a bit thinner than oil paints and watercolor paper is a little bit thicker, so you may want to add a sealer to keep your painting from peeling off the paper. Many people prefer to add a sealer, but others feel that the paper is enough on its own. You can also decide if you want to frame your painting and if you want to use a matte or a glossy finish. 

Wrapping up,

Now, you’re ready to start with your first watercolor. Watercolor is a fun medium, and it does not require a very high level of skill to do. Practice, practice, practice will make sure that you find the right medium for your creations. So, go ahead and experiment with different colors. The sky is the limit!

If you don’t know how to paint, we recommend you start painting with a minimum number of colors. The most colors you use are browns, yellow and blue-green. Keep working with your colors, and make sure that you keep blending your colors. As you practice more, you’ll learn new techniques. To know more about watercolors, read our blog here

An easy way to start learning the tricks and techniques of miniature paintings is to attend live interactive workshops on GoSocialYou will learn with a community of like-minded painting enthusiasts and get some much-needed encouragement to carry on with your art. You can even select your favorite creators to learn from and build your community on the platform.

With GoSocial, learning to paint becomes fun. What are you waiting for? Register on the platform right away!