Watercolor Painting Lessons – How to Get Started

Have you wanted to try painting with watercolors but don’t know how to get started? If you have seen different watercolor paintings, you might have noticed the many varied types and techniques used. It might make it seem as if watercolors might be too complicated, but do not fear. The key is to find lessons from a teacher that can help you with all of the varied tricks, techniques, and methods while encouraging you and making it fun. For beginners, good lessons from a teacher that is skilled in not just one method or style, but in various methods is the best way to go. Taking lessons from someone who will want you to strictly follow only one way of painting may not allow you to experience what best suits you personally.

Watercolor painting is a medium that can be controlled when you learn the skill with a bit of practice, but it is by nature a very loose and transparent form of painting. This scares many people away from the media, but if you find someone to teach you the freedom that it allows you, you will be pleasantly surprised and pleased.

Good watercolor lessons will also cover the basics of drawing, composition, color, and shading. Even though watercolor lends itself to being loose, these basics are really very important to any kind of painting. When you actually begin your lessons, you will probably work with simple forms and practice techniques such as wet washes (which are wet paint laid directly onto wet paper), dry washes (which are watery washes of paint laid smoothly onto dry areas of the paper), and then layering these type of washes. You will also learn to blend and shade with this watery media. After that, you may begin to learn to control “happy” accidents, and use a dry brush or do varied fun methods of creating texture and detail. Your first paintings will be ones that generally follow that of the teacher’s painting in demonstrations to get a basis of experience and learning. Once you become more comfortable with watercolor painting, you will progress to painting from still life arrangements or photos that you have taken, or even other types of models or plein air.

There is a school of thought which is called the “Purists.” Those who follow a purist form of watercolor painting, insist that watercolor paintings must be done very cleanly and all whites must be the actual watercolor paper. Along with this, no other substances may be introduced or added to the painting. This means no white paint or opaque paints. On the other end of the spectrum, there is a school of thought, which allows and encourages the use of white paint and other substances to allow for creativity. If white paint is used, it is generally called a gouache and the painting looses it’s transparency.

Basic supplies for watercolor painting include special watercolor brushes which are more flexible than oil painting brushes. These brushes will normally have longer bristles and will hold a large amount of water or paint. Watercolor paintings are most commonly done on a special watercolor paper which is made of rag and can be purchased in varying sizes and weights. However, there are many other untraditional surfaces that can you may want to paint on. As for paints; there are the dry cake type watercolors that are available, but most serious or accomplished watercolor artists prefer tube watercolor paints. Your teacher will provide you with a list of supplies and will probably let you know their preferences.

The cost of these supplies can be relatively simple or may become quite expensive. If you decide to continue with watercolors after the beginning lessons, you will want to purchase the better brands and better quality of these artists’ tools, but they can be purchases gradually. One item of cost that many students may not consider at first will be in the framing. Watercolor paintings need to be matted on acid free matt board by a knowledgeable framer. Then the matted paintings should framed be under glass. So, this additional cost with the frame may sometimes make framing watercolors a little more expensive than perhaps oil paintings or acrylic paintings.

Watercolor painting can open a new and exciting world of expression for you. Once you consider all of the fun and positive aspects of watercolor painting and then let yourself enjoy it, you will no doubt be on your way to becoming a unique and wonderful artist.