Watercolor Painting for Beginners: The Basics and More

One of the reasons that watercolor artists choose this as their medium is because of the freedom it gives them to paint loosely. Of course, some choose to use certain watercolor painting techniques that give a more detailed result, too! But if you’re looking for a way to learn how to paint watercolor art, you can start here. Learn about the supplies you need and the effects that you’ll get from the different brushes and papers that are available in this Mediapedia (from The Artist’s Magazine, June 2009) by beloved watercolor artist Birgit O’Connor, who is known for her beautiful floral art.

“Watercolor is pigment suspended in a water-soluble vehicle or base (usually gum arabic),” she explains. “When mixed with water, the pigment particles can spread out across the page. You control how the pigment blends and flows by regulating how much water you use in watercolor art.

“This art medium has always been perceived as very unforgiving, offering the artist little control. However, the transparent effects and luminous washes possible with watercolor painting techniques are unrivaled.

“Watercolors are much less toxic than many other media, and manufacturers are continually working on improving and producing nontoxic substitutes for the cobalts, cadmiums, and lead-based paints.” ~Birgit O’Connor

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Painting with Watercolors Tutorial

Get the Essentials of Painting with Watercolor

In this free download, Watercolor Painting: The Basics and More, you’ll get the entire Mediapedia article, along with two Watercolor Essentials columns from Watercolor Artist. “Keys to Luminous Color” (June 2013) by Frank Spino will teach you how to set the tone with underpaintings, and in “A Symbiotic Trio” (April 2014), Linda Kemp shows you how to harmonize shape, color, and movement. Enter your email address in the space provided to get a free download of all three articles, and scroll down to learn more about what they feature.

How to watercolor paint

The Ultimate Guide to Using Watercolor Brushes

The Artist’s Magazine’s Mediapedia: Watercolor gives you an overview about the medium. Learn about watercolor paints, palettes, brushes, and paper, and score O’Connor’s personal materials list.

Watercolor instruction guide

Makin’ OJ (watercolor on paper, 24×18) by Frank Spino.

Painting Technique: Keys to Luminous Color

“Follow along as I demonstrate my process for developing luminous color and share my best tips for creating the illusion of light,” says Spino. For example, he gives three tips for keeping colors fresh:

1. Steer clear of thin, diluted color. Take advantage of the full range of color intensity available to you.

2. Start your painting by mixing a bright color. Apply the color strong but not at full strength so you have some wiggle room. Work in other colors around the bright and see how they influence one another: In comparison, one color will be dominant and one subordinate; one warmer and one cooler. It will become apparent which color needs to be more intense and which one needs to be less so.

3. Once you’re satisfied with your bright, leave it alone. Let it be the anchor to which you key your remaining colors. Adjust your middle and darker notes accordingly.

 Watercolor for beginners

The Love Dance–Golden Koi (watercolor on paper, 5½x7½) by Linda Kemp.

A Step-by-Step Watercolor Painting Lesson: A Symbiotic Trio

In this article, Kemp gives a step-by-step lesson on how to harmonize artistic elements of a watercolor painting. “If you aim to find new, exciting subjects to paint, keep in mind that it’s not just the objects in your paintings that make the work unique, but also your interpretation and the personal creativity you bring to them,” she says.

“Golden koi are symbolic of love, good fortune and strength. In this watercolor painting demonstration, I’ll show you how to put a different spin on this oft-painted subject. Harmonizing shape, color, and movement will reinforce the feeling of a quiet moment found while peering into the shallows of a fish pond. Breaking forms into multiple planes will give the appearance of volume and dimension. Practice first on a piece of sketch paper so that when it comes time to paint, you’ll layer shape, color and movement with confidence.”

Get started today!


Take advantage of these free articles from The Artist’s Magazine and Watercolor Artist to help you learn how to paint with watercolor. Along with this free download, you’ll receive the free ArtistsNetwork.com newsletter with watercolor instruction, inspiration and more.

Download this tutorial to learn how to paint watercolor style.