Watercolor painting. Tips for the first watercolor painting

Watercolor painting

Watercolor painting is a creative activity that promotes your concentration and is great fun. We’ll explain how to create your first watercolor paintings and give you practical tips on materials and motifs.

If you’re stressed at work during the day, there’s nothing you want more than to relax in the evening. There are many ways to do this, such as relaxation exercises and meditation. You can also try a creative activity, such as sewing, playing the piano or weaving.

Painting with watercolors is also excellent for this purpose. Not only will you relax, but you’ll end up with a one-of-a-kind piece. Giving your paintings as gifts will put a smile on the face of both you and your friends.

Watercolor painting is generally considered difficult, but you only need to understand a few simple things to succeed. Once you have internalized the basics, you will quickly succeed in great pictures. An advantage of this painting technique is that you quickly see results. This is an additional motivator. But you have to be a little careful, because watercolors dry very quickly. On the one hand, this is nice because you can give away your painting shortly after it is done. On the other hand, because of this property, it is usually not possible to change your painting afterwards.

Watercolor painting

Watercolors are very versatile. You have the option to create very controlled and detailed portraits and landscapes. But it is also possible to paint impressionistic or abstract. By the way, when painting with watercolor, the background remains visible, unlike other painting techniques. So you can apply different shades on top of each other and have even more design freedom. General information about painting and different techniques can be found here.

Watercolors versus watercolors

Watercolors are often compared to watercolors. However, unlike watercolor, watercolor uses non-opaque water-based paints. The best way to remember the difference between the two techniques is to use the following description: with watercolor, you paint with paint mixed with water. With watercolor, you paint with water mixed with paint.

Watercolor painting: choosing the right material

Choosing material for painting

Before you start painting, you need to get the right material. To paint with watercolors you basically do not need much. Whether you save money or spend a lot depends on you. As a beginner, professional equipment is not necessary. After all, you don’t know yet whether you’ll enjoy painting at all.

If you have tried it out for a while and come to the conclusion that you want to paint watercolors regularly, you can always buy more materials. In the following you will find out which material you will need in any case.

Watercolor paints

You can buy paints either in tubes or in special watercolor pots. There are also other possibilities. However, tubes and cups are the classic methods. Watercolor pens are nothing more than small blocks of color. When you run a damp brush over them, you take color pigments from the blocks and paint. The tubes contain paint that is already slightly moistened. However, you still need water and a brush to use the colors.

Watercolor painting


If you paint with watercolor pens, you do not necessarily need a palette. If you have decided to use tubes of paint, a palette is a good idea. You can use it to quickly and easily mix the colors together and dilute them as desired. If you apply the colors immediately to your picture, you will quickly lose control and have too much color on the paper. This can no longer be undone afterwards.


In addition to the colors, the right paper is of crucial importance. Watercolor paper is comparatively expensive. This is due to its special properties. First decide on a format and size. There are, for example, structured or smooth paper, individual sheets of paper or entire blocks. When painting, leave the paper in the block unless you use very little water. If you cut out the sheet and paint very wet, it is in danger of tearing.


Each brush comes in different types and strengths. It always consists of three parts, namely the brush hairs, a metal ferrule that holds the hairs in place and a wooden handle. If you want to paint small, detailed structures, you should choose a fine brush. Large areas are best filled with a large brush.

There are special brushes for painting with watercolors. It is best to choose a model with natural hair. The paint sticks to it particularly well. First and foremost, your choice of brush should depend on what you want to paint. So-called water tank brushes make it easier for you to use the right amount of water. With this brush, you can control the amount of water applied to the paper without any problems.

If you are unsure which brush is best suited to your project, go to a specialist store for advice. You should not save too much when buying a brush. Cheap brushes lose hair quickly. In the worst case, these hairs will get caught in the colors on your painting and ruin it.

Brush cleaner

Ideally, you clean your brush in clear water.

After each use you should clean your brushes thoroughly. If you don’t, they will quickly become brittle and broken. Also, if you don’t clean them properly, a lot of paint will get stuck in the brush. After drying, you will not be able to remove this so well. Ideally, you should clean your brushes with clean water after each use.

If this does not work sufficiently, special cleaning agents will help you. You choose the right one for your brush. There are different agents for each type. You do not have to buy the right cleaning agent for every brush. However, it makes sense to inform yourself about the possibilities. If you use a brush particularly often, it can be quite advantageous to clean it regularly with cleaning agents to remove excess paint residues.

Tips for the first watercolor paintings

If you want to mix colors, you must know the color theory.

If you have just started painting in watercolor, you will most likely face some challenges. There are several techniques, and you may lose track of them. But don’t let that put you off, just try it out. You’re sure to find a technique that you enjoy the most. In the following, we have compiled tips for you that will make painting your first pictures especially easy.

Get to know the colors

When painting with watercolors, the use of primary colors is very important. You can buy ready-mixed colors, but you usually mix them yourself. This way you have more creative freedom and can let your imagination run wild. Before you start painting, you should study color theory. To do this, orient yourself on an illustration by the Swiss painter and art theorist Johannes Itten. In concrete terms, this involves twelve color fields in which primary and secondary colors are depicted. If you look closely at the illustration, you will learn a lot about which colors harmonize with each other and which do not.

Yellow, red and blue are primary colors. You cannot produce them by mixing other colors. However, if you mix the primary colors together in the appropriate proportions, you can produce all the other colors from them. At the beginning this is not so easy. Once you’ve tried a bit and tested different color combinations, you’ll quickly get a feel for the right mixing ratio.

You create secondary colors by mixing primary colors that are next to each other. For example, blue and red become violet, yellow and blue become green, and red and yellow become orange. If you mix two adjacent colors of the color wheel of primary and secondary colors together, you create tertiary colors. Information about color psychology can be found here.

Watercolor painting

Practice mixing colors

You can practice mixing colors

If you have just started to learn about color theory, you can practice mixing colors as a dry run before the actual painting process. To do this, simply mix different colors together and find out which ones go best together. When you start painting later, you should make sure to proceed from light to dark. Areas that are too dark are difficult or impossible to lighten. If you want your colors to shine brightly, do not mix more than three colors.

Plan your painting

Especially when painting with watercolors, it is a very good idea to think in advance about exactly how you want your picture to look. Once you have applied the paint to the paper, you will not be able to remove it completely. At most, you can paint over it with another color to change the hue. So think carefully about where you apply paint and how much.

You can simplify your work by drawing a sketch of your planned picture on a second piece of paper with a pencil. You can then use this as a guide while painting with the watercolors.Tips for learning to draw can be found here.

Let yourself be inspired by other paintings

In the beginning, you may find it difficult to correctly assess the proportions of a figure or an object. Perhaps you lack ideas for a motif. In such a case, look at the works of other artists for inspiration. Before you start, you must decide whether you want to create a still life, landscape, portrait or abstract painting.

If you spontaneously come up with a great motif yourself, it’s a good idea to record it in a sketch. In the best case, you always have a notepad and pencil with you when you’re on the road and can capture spontaneous ideas. When you unpack your watercolors at home, you can use the sketch as a template.

Paint from light to dark

Watercolors do not cover very well. Therefore, it is best to plan not only what you will paint, but also where you will use which colors. It is important that you paint from light to dark, if possible. The colors dry very quickly. So you can easily apply one layer, wait a short time and add another. When applying the second layer, work as quickly as possible. If you take too long, the first layer of paint will come off and smudge.

Learn not to paint

When working with watercolors, you need to learn not only how to paint, but also how not to paint. This may sound a little strange at first, but it is vitally important. Unlike many other painting techniques, when you paint with watercolors you only create white areas if you don’t paint a part of the paper. There is no such thing as white paint. Perhaps you have also heard the term negative technique.

Do not have too high expectations

Be patient with yourself and don’t put yourself under pressure. Painting should be fun and not stressful. For sure, you will not be satisfied with everything you paint, especially at the first attempts. You may not succeed in creating a beautiful picture until the fifth or sixth attempt. The important thing is not to get discouraged after a few failed attempts, but to keep trying.

Flowers are a very popular motif for watercolor paintings. Even as a beginner you can create beautiful pictures with this motif. There are countless techniques and possibilities with which you can paint flowers. It’s best to try different versions and then decide for yourself what you like best.

Two colors and a single brush are enough to paint a flower motif. Depending on how you mix the colors with the water, you can create very different shades and color gradients. One type of flower that is particularly easy and quick to paint is the rose. Choose a brush as thin as possible and decide on a color. Fill the brush with paint or dip it in the desired color and start painting small strokes around each other with the front brush tip. The strokes should each look like the letter “C”. Depending on the size of the flower, you will need to make different numbers of strokes. That’s all you need to know to paint a rose flower.

If you want to paint additional leaves, dip your brush in green paint and place it again with the tip. Now pull the brush down a few millimeters and then increase the pressure on the brush until you apply the full width. Pull the brush again a few millimeters over the paper and then take a little pressure out of your hand until you are painting only with the tip of the brush, just like at the beginning. This way you will create simple and beautiful flower petals. Of course, there are many more methods to paint roses and other flowers. It is also a good idea to draw the desired motif with a pencil. If you do not press the pencil firmly, you can paint over the line with watercolors without any problems.