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New to Watercolor? 5 Tips to Make Your Paintings Stand Out

Watercolor is an unruly medium, characterized by dribbles of paint, colors that run and indistinct forms on paper. Getting started with watercolor is different from other forms of paint, because of the medium’s chaotic and difficult to control nature. If you’re new to this medium, knowing what to expect can help you adjust to this type of painting. The following tips can help. Here’s what you need to know. 

1. Experiment with Different Styles

There are many styles of watercolor. Experimenting with each type can help you find the style that works best for you. 

  • Wet on wet. To paint wet on wet, apply water to a piece of paper using a clean brush. Next, apply paint to the wetted paper. The paint will run. Just how much the paint runs depends on how much water is on the paper. Allow the paint to dry.
  • Wet on dry. Apply wet paint to a dry paper, then allow the paint to dry on the paper to see how the paint looks.
  • Color blending. To create blended colors, apply wet paint of different colors to a dry paper. Allow the wet areas of paint to combine and blend. You’ll notice that the colors remain pure near the edges, but the colors blend in the middle. 
  • Mixed medium. See what happens when you mix water color with other mediums like pencil, pen and ink, markers and pastels. 

2. Don’t Get Too Precious About Your Paintings

Watercolor is a difficult to control medium that produces unexpected results on a regular basis. Even artists who have been painting with watercolor for years are often surprised by the results of their efforts. 

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Let go of the idea that your watercolor paintings will look in a certain way, especially in these first paintings. Don’t try to achieve perfection. Instead, devote yourself to experimenting with the medium, seeing how the paint takes to the paper, and what happens when you apply paint to varying wet and dry conditions. 

3. Invest In Good Materials

Not all watercolor materials are created equal. Purchase a small set of good quality water color paint. Do not splurge on a lot of paint at first. Wait until you know what brands and colors you like best before investing in a larger set of colors.  

The quality of your watercolor paper also matters. Poor quality watercolor paper will buckle when it becomes too wet, creating an uneven application of paint. If you’re not sure which watercolor materials are good brands or which brands perform best, talk to a clerk at the art store when making your purchase.  

4. Start Light and Add Dark Paint As You Go

One of the ways that watercolor paint is distinctly different from other types of paint is that you can’t subtract or overwrite the paint once it’s on the paper. This is because watercolor is a transparent medium. While you can add more paint to the paper, you can never lighten what is already in the image. 

To avoid mistakes, start by applying light paint to the paper. Add darker paint as you add details to your image.  

5. Paint Every Day

The most important thing you can do to learn how to paint with watercolor is to paint every day, and practice as often as possible. Watercolor can be tricky, but the more time you invest in your new hobby, the happier you’ll be with the results.