watercolor for beginners

you want to start watercolor
but you have some questions
find answers to frequent questions

You are in the right place to learn watercolor for beginners.

Learn about watercolor for beginners painting by Carol MayWatercolor for Beginners

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watercolor for beginners

didn't i use watercolor paints in grade school?

You probably did. Watercolor is a clean, convenient paint you can use to create any picture you can imagine.


tell me more about watercolors

Art paints all use the same pigments for their beautiful colors.

The pigments in watercolor paints are mixed with gum Arabic. It is easy to clean-up with water.

Watercolor is easy, safe and convenient. No stinky, flammable things are required for cleaning watercolor.

The watercolor brushes I have been using for around twenty years have never seen soap. I just swish them around in water, blot the excess water away and lay them down flat to dry.


How do you use water colors?

  • Watercolors are simple to use.

All you have to do is dip your brush into clean water and then dip you brush into your selected color.

You do not have to mix or add anything to the watercolors - just water.

Watercolor for beginners is so easy!

Mix your colors in the center of your palette. The more water you add, the lighter your colors will be.

If you want intense colors, use less water and more paint.

Egret and lilies watercolor by Carol MayLet you imagination flow

Keep a clean water container handy. Wash your brush out in clean water when you are changing colors, so you don't contaminate the other colors.


What are the best watercolor paints?

Watercolor paints come in two different forms.

  • Pan watercolors are pressed into cubes, dried and usually placed in a container with a lid.

When you want to use them you rub a wet brush on your selected color cube.

The brushes used on ad - pan watercolors wear out faster from all the rubbing. You are limited to using small brushes because a large brush would over-lap into the adjoining pan colors.

Pan watercolors are very handy for travel and painting in the field.

Winsor & Newton Paint Company has been business since the 1800s with an excellent reputation.

  • Tube watercolors have some glycerin added to keep the paint flexible.

Squeeze the tube paint colors out onto your palette. Any size brush may be used with tube watercolors.

Cover the paint palette between painting sessions. If the paint dries out, spritz it with a bit of water and you are ready to paint again.

You can get more vibrant, intense colors with ad - tube watercolors. Tube watercolors are my chosen watercolor paint.

Professional artists use professional, artist grade paints. They cover better because they contain more pigment. They are a better investment in the long run.

Watercolor paints labeled for students have extenders added. They are less expensive because they contain less pigment. They are suitable for learning.

Cotman paints made by Winsor and Newton paint company are ad - the best student paints. They have the highest pigment load of any student paints. They have good coverage and make beautiful paintings.


what colors do you need?

Start with the ad - three primary colors, red, yellow and blue.

Or a ad - warm and cool version of each of the primaries.

  • Red,
    Cadmium Red (warm red) and Permanent Rose (cool red)
  • Yellow,
    New Gamboge (warm yellow) and Lemon Yellow (cool yellow)
  • Blue,
    Ultramarine Blue and Pthalocyanine  Blue (Thalo Blue)
You can paint butterfliesYou Can Do It!

What is the best paper for watercolor?

Watercolor for beginners is traditionally painted on 100% cotton rag paper. Cold-pressed watercolor paper has a bit of texture. It is easier to use than hot-pressed paper. It comes from 90#, 140# and 300# weights.

The most common weight is ad - 140# paper. It needs to be stretched; otherwise it will buckle when you put water on it.

If you purchase watercolor paper in a ad - watercolor paper block. The sides of the paper are fastened down to prevent buckling. After your painting is complete and dry, remove the single sheet from the block.

The third paper option is ad - 300# paper. It is a heavier paper that does not buckle when you paint on it.

Watercolor paintings on paper must be framed and matted under glass.


Can i paint watercolor on canvas?

Watercolor painting on canvasWatercolor painting on canvas

Yes, you may paint watercolor on canvas. Only use canvas specifically labeled ad - canvas for watercolor.

Before you use it, brush a good bit of water on the canvas to break the surface tension of the canvas. Otherwise the paint just tends to slide around.

Let the water soak away before you start painting. You must seal the dry painting with a ad - spray fixative.

Watercolor for beginners is much easier on paper or a prepared panel.


what about panels?

Hardboard panels made for watercolor are my favorites. Almost all of my watercolor paintings are done on ad - Aquabord made by Ampersand.

When the painting is dry, spray it with Krylon fixative. The finished painting is framed without a mat or glass.

Aquabord makes watercolor for beginners easier because mistakes can be removed. Mistakes are more difficult to remove from paper.

Why did I chose Aquabord and Claybord for my watercolor paintings?


what brushes should i use?

Watercolor painting requires soft brushes made out of either animal hair or a soft synthetic fiber.

You can do all your watercolors with just three brushes.

What does Wikipedia say about Watercolor Painting?





what do you need for watercolor?

  • 3-6 paint colors
  • Watercolor brushes
  • Something to paint on, paper, panel or canvas
  • A palette or plate to mix and store your colors
  • Clean water and paper towels

What a joy it is to share this watercolor for beginners' page with you!


Don't stop here -

  • Get your watercolor materials and start practicing.

happy painting!




learn more with the watercolor tutorials

  • Watercolor Art Supplies

    What watercolor art supplies do you need? What can you paint on? What’s the best watercolor paint, paper, brushes? Can you watercolor on canvas, plus more…

  • Beginners Watercolor Painting Tutorial

    Start painting watercolor with an easy, beginners watercolor painting tutorial with the painting artist Carol May. Start painting watercolor with 5 easy steps.

  • How to Watercolor

    You can learn how to watercolor. Watercolor doesn't have to be scary. You can paint with confidence and knowledge. Paint a hummingbird and a daisy step-by-step.

  • Painting Watercolor Flowers

    The most important thing about painting watercolor flowers is - watercolor is fun and exciting! Learn how to paint watercolor Iris, Poppies and Echinacea flowers.

  • How to Paint With Watercolors

    How to paint with watercolors. Learn the fun and unpredictable watercolor technique of pouring watercolors. A step-by-step tutorial of painting colorful koi.


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