45+ Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners: Fun and Easy Techniques to Get Started

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Last Updated on January 16, 2024 by Dee

Taking up watercolor painting as a beginner can be a fun and rewarding experience. The versatile nature of watercolor paints allows you to create a variety of styles and techniques, while the simplicity of the medium encourages you to experiment and grow your skills. In this article, we will explore some easy watercolor painting ideas that are perfect for beginners stepping into the world of watercolor art. Grab our free watercolor templates at the end!

Starting with simple and approachable subjects can help you gain confidence in your ability to create beautiful watercolor paintings. From realistic landscapes to whimsical abstracts, these watercolor painting ideas for beginners will not only inspire your creativity but also provide a strong foundation for your artistic journey.

As you venture into watercolor painting, it’s essential to practice different techniques and be patient with the learning process. Embrace the unique qualities of this medium and remember to have fun while exploring the endless possibilities that watercolor offers. Soon enough, you’ll discover your own artistic voice and create mesmerizing works of art.

27 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners

Getting Started with Watercolor Painting

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Understanding Watercolor Supplies

To begin your watercolor painting journey, it’s essential to understand the basic supplies you’ll need. First, select high-quality watercolor paper as it can make a huge difference in the outcome of your paintings. Choose paper with a decent weight (140 lbs or 300 gsm) and a texture that suits your preference (rough, cold-pressed, or hot-pressed).

Next, invest in watercolors that match your skill level. Start with a basic set of colors in either tubes or pans. Artist-grade watercolors offer better quality and longevity, but student-grade paints are more budget-friendly and beginner-friendly.

Your brush selection is also crucial. Purchase a few round brushes in various sizes (small, medium, and large) made of synthetic or natural fibers. Brushes with different shapes, like flat or angled, can add versatility to your techniques.

Lastly, don’t forget a watercolor palette, where you’ll mix your colors. A plastic or porcelain palette with multiple wells will help you create various color combinations.

Setting Up Your Workspace

When setting up your workspace, always make sure you have enough room to arrange all of your supplies comfortably. Keep your paper, watercolors, brushes, and palette within easy reach.

Here’s a simple list to help you set up your workspace:

  1. Choose a comfortable and well-lit area
  2. Place your watercolor paper on a board or easel
  3. Set up your watercolor palette nearby
  4. Arrange your brushes, water containers, and paper towels
  5. Keep a reference material or sketch for guidance (if needed)

Basic Watercolor Techniques

Mastering Wet-on-Wet and Wet-on-Dry

As a beginner starting your watercolor journey, two essential techniques you’ll want to try are wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry. Wet-on-wet is when you apply a layer of paint onto an already wet surface. This technique creates beautiful, soft edges and natural, flowing shapes. To practice, wet your brush with plain water and create rectangles on your paper. Apply pigment to the wet rectangles to see how the colors blend.

On the other hand, wet-on-dry is when you apply paint onto a dry surface. This method is excellent for achieving more defined brush strokes and sharp edges. Remember to keep your paper at a 45-degree angle when painting with watercolors to avoid pooling of pigments. Always ensure your brush is wet enough when experimenting with these techniques.

Exploring Brush Strokes and Washes

Developing your watercolor skills goes beyond mastering wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry techniques. It’s crucial to explore different brush strokes and washes to bring your paintings to life. When it comes to brush strokes, try various pressure levels and directions to see the effects on the paper. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

A few essential washes to practice include:

  • Flat wash: A single, even layer of color applied on a dry or wet surface.
  • Graded wash: A gradual transition of color intensity, usually from dark to light.
  • Variegated wash: A blend of two or more colors, creating interesting transitions and textures.

To advance in your watercolor journey, try creating backgrounds with washes and using a pen, marker, or acrylic paint for more precise control in the foreground. It’s a good idea to use masking tape or washi tape for cleaner edges in your artwork.

Ultimately, nurturing your painting with watercolors skills involves practice, experimentation, and creativity. Embrace the learning process and the unpredictability of this beautiful medium while enjoying the artistic journey.

Selecting Your Subject Matter

Choosing Simple Subjects to Paint

As a beginner, it’s important to choose simple subjects to paint. This helps you focus on mastering basic techniques and building your confidence. Start with everyday items like a fruit or a cat, which offer recognizable shapes and a variety of colors. For instance, you may consider painting an apple or a strawberry to practice your skills. If you’re an animal lover, try capturing the essence of your favorite bird perched on a branch1.

A great way to practice watercolor painting is by focusing on flowers such as roses. They offer an opportunity to experiment with colors, shapes, and shadows while polishing your skills. Another popular subject matter is painting trees, which allows you to explore different kinds of foliage, and branches. These subjects provide room for creativity and make watercolor painting a enjoyable experience.

Incorporating Nature and Objects

Incorporating nature and objects into your watercolor paintings can help you develop a unique style. Consider using elements like a cactus or other plants to add interesting textures and shapes to your artwork. You can also find inspiration in everyday objects, such as pebbles or seashells, and bring them to life on your canvas.

Here are some subject ideas to inspire your creativity:

  • Fruits: apples, oranges, cherries
  • Flowers: roses, tulips, sunflowers
  • Birds: sparrows, hummingbirds, parrots
  • Trees: pine, oak, willow
  • Nature-inspired objects: leaves, pinecones, rocks

By selecting your subject matter carefully, you’ll soon find that your watercolor painting skills develop rapidly. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new subjects as you grow more confident in your abilities. In the end, the most important thing is to enjoy the process and have fun with your artwork.

Composition and Color Basics

Learning About Composition

When starting with watercolor painting, understanding composition is essential. Composition refers to how elements are arranged on the canvas to create a cohesive image. As a beginner, focus on simple subjects to establish a strong foreground, middle ground, and background.

For example, try painting a landscape with a tree in the foreground, a small house in the middle ground, and mountains in the background. This provides a sense of depth and makes your painting visually appealing. Also, practice using gradients for smooth color transitions, especially in backgrounds like sky and water.

Playing with Color Palettes

Now, let’s dive into colors. You’ll want to experiment with various color palettes to find what you love and develop your creativity. Start by exploring the primary colors: red, blue, and yellow. Mixing these primary colors will give you secondary colors such as green, orange, and purple. Ultimately, you’ll be able to create a vast range of colors for your paintings.

Here’s a simple color chart to give you an idea:

Primary ColorsSecondary Colors

Don’t be afraid to play with your color palettes. Create your own unique combinations or even a rainbow using various shades and tones. Just remember, when combining colors, it’s crucial to consider how they interact with one another, especially in watercolor.

Shading is another essential aspect to consider. It adds depth and dimension to your painting. For instance, experiment with wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry watercolor techniques for different shading effects. Try lighter colors in the foreground and darker colors in the background to create a sense of distance.

As you progress, your sense of composition and color will improve. Keep experimenting, learning, and pushing your creative boundaries in your watercolor journey.

watercolor painting ideas for beginners

Step-by-Step Painting Projects

Easy Landscapes for Beginners

One of the best ways to start learning watercolor painting is by practicing simple landscapes. These types of paintings can help you become more comfortable with the medium and develop your skills. To begin, try painting mountains or a forest landscape using basic shapes and colors.

For a simple mountain landscape, start by sketching out the outline of the mountains using light pencil lines. Fill in the mountain shapes with a mix of blues and grays, and add snowy peaks with a touch of white watercolor paint. To create a sense of depth, make each layer of mountains slightly lighter than the previous one. For a forest landscape painting, sketch out the shapes of the trees using various shades of green for the leaves.

Then, use a fan brush to create texture and depth by adding in tree trunks and branches with brown or gray paint. Don’t forget to add a sky background with soft blues or pinks to complete your artwork.

Some key features to focus on:

  • Simple shapes: Mountains, forests, or fields.
  • Colors: Blues, grays, and greens.
  • Techniques: Mixing colors, using a fan brush, or adding depth.

Painting Watercolor Florals

Another great project for beginners is painting watercolor flowers. Start by choosing a simple flower, such as a single rose or daisy, and sketch the outline lightly with pencil. For the petals, use a wet-on-wet technique by dampening the paper with water before applying the paint. This method will allow the colors to blend smoothly and create a more natural look.

To paint leaves, mix varying shades of green to create more realistic and detailed foliage. Experiment with different brush strokes for the leaves’ veins and edges. Finally, play around with shadows and highlights to make your floral painting pop.

Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t worry if your paintings aren’t flawless from the start. The more you paint, the better you’ll become at capturing the beauty of watercolor flowers and landscapes. Keep practicing, and most importantly, have fun while exploring your creativity with watercolor painting.

Exploring Creative Ideas and Techniques

Trying Abstract Watercolor Art

One exciting way to get started with watercolor painting is to explore abstract art. Abstract watercolor art allows you to break free from traditional, realistic representations and lets your creativity flow. You can play with various colors, shapes, and forms without feeling restricted. Remember, there are no rules, so feel free to experiment and see what patterns and designs emerge as you paint. An example of a beginner-friendly abstract project is creating abstract squares with different color combinations.

Experimenting with Textures and Layers

Another captivating aspect of watercolor painting is adding interesting textures and layers to your artwork. You can achieve this by using different watercolor techniques, such as wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry. The wet-on-dry technique is particularly suited for beginners, as it offers more control over the paint application. Experimenting with these methods can create unique effects and add depth to your paintings.

To help you get started, here’s a simple list of some ideas for incorporating textures and layers into your watercolor paintings:

  1. Sponging: Gently press a porous sponge into wet paint, or dip it into the paint and dab it onto the paper.
  2. Salt: Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt or table salt onto wet paint for a crystalline effect.
  3. Plastic Wrap: Press crumpled plastic wrap onto wet paint, leave it to dry, and then remove gently.

Try incorporating these techniques in your watercolor paintings as you explore a world of creativity and enjoy experimenting with your art. So, pick up your brush, and let the fun begin!

Practical Tips for Beginners

Avoiding Common Mistakes

Starting your journey as a beginner artist in watercolor painting can feel overwhelming. However, there’s no need to worry, following these simple tips will help you avoid common mistakes and make progress.

Firstly, experiment with your materials, techniques, and color combinations. You don’t have to start with a masterpiece, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and learn from them.

Another useful tip: When mixing colors, avoid using too much water for it can lead to washed-out colors or uneven washes. Instead, try a graded wash or color blending techniques to achieve the desired effect.

It’s important to observe the subjects you are painting. Take the time to notice the details, shapes, and shadows that you’ll be incorporating into your artwork. This will not only improve your skill but also adds depth to your paintings.

Practice Strategies to Improve Skill

Developing your skills in watercolor painting requires dedication and practice. Set aside time each week to work on your craft and track your progress. Try a few of these simple watercolor painting ideas to boost your creativity.

Don’t be too critical of your work. As a beginner, it’s essential to be patient with your progress and appreciate your achievements, regardless of how small they may seem. Focus on the process, not the final outcome.

One helpful strategy is to keep a sketchbook where you can freely experiment, doodle, and test out techniques on a smaller scale. This will promote creativity, foster new ideas and techniques, and serve as a visual record of your growth.

Lastly, consider learning from others. Join local art classes, seek online tutorials, or follow watercolor artists on social media. Seeing how others approach their work, handle mistakes, and develop their skills can be inspiring and provide valuable insights to apply to your own art practice.

Remember, embracing your creativity and enjoying the learning process are what matters most in your journey as a beginner watercolor artist. Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!

Incorporating Mixed Media

Using Pen and Ink with Watercolors

Incorporating pen and ink into your watercolor paintings can add detail and crispness to your artwork. Start by creating a light pencil sketch of your desired subject. Next, apply a thin layer of watercolor paint to establish a base layer. Let it dry completely. Now, grab your favorite pen, marker, or ink and start adding details. You can use hatching, cross-hatching, or stippling techniques to create texture and depth. Once you’re done, you can add another layer of watercolor paint to enhance the colors, being mindful of using a light touch so the ink doesn’t bleed. Mixing watercolor with pen and ink is perfect for creating line and wash watercolor art.

Here’s a summary of the process:

  1. Create a light pencil sketch of your subject.
  2. Apply a thin layer of watercolor paint for a base layer and let it dry.
  3. Incorporate pen and ink for details, using techniques such as hatching or stippling.
  4. Add another watercolor layer to enhance the colors.

Mixing Watercolors with Other Mediums

Mixed media watercolor painting can add an exciting dimension to your artwork. In addition to pen and ink, there are other mediums you can combine with watercolor for an impressive result. Some popular options include acrylic paint and abstract watercolor painting.

  • Acrylic paint can be added on top of your watercolors, allowing you to build up layers and create texture. Acrylics are versatile and can be applied using a brush, palette knife, or even your fingers. Remember to keep water and brushes separate when using both watercolors and acrylics to avoid unwanted mixing.
  • Abstract watercolor painting is another excellent option for beginners looking to explore mixed media. Using various techniques, such as pouring, wet-on-wet, or splattering, you can create unique and expressive compositions.

When experimenting with mixed media, don’t shy away from trying new techniques and materials to discover your personal style.

Finding Inspiration and Resources

Learning from Watercolor Tutorials

To get started with watercolor painting, it’s a good idea to find tutorials that cater to beginners. There are countless resources available in the form of books, online tutorials, and even YouTube videos. Books like The Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook offer valuable insights and techniques for budding artists. Moreover, you can find relatable and engaging lessons online.

As you practice your watercolor art, don’t forget to be patient with yourself. Watercolor painting is all about experimentation and finding your own style. Keep practicing and learning from different resources to enhance your skills.

Seeking Inspiration for Your Next Piece

Inspiration can be found in various forms, including nature, other artists’ work, or even your surroundings. Some popular watercolor themes include landscapes, floral designs, abstract art, and geometric patterns. You may want to try painting sunsets with the wet-on-wet approach, adding a twist to the iconic rainbow, or creating a starry night sky.

To further spark your creativity, visit local art galleries or museums to admire watercolor works by experienced artists. This can provide you with new perspectives and techniques to incorporate into your own paintings. Social media platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, are also excellent sources of inspiration, as they showcase various styles and themes of watercolor art. Just remember to always credit the original artist when trying to learn from their work.

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By exploring different resources, practicing regularly, and seeking inspiration, you’ll find your unique style and improve your watercolor painting skills. Happy painting!

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2 thoughts on “45+ Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners: Fun and Easy Techniques to Get Started”

  1. I am a beginner in watercolour art. I have been experiencing difficulty when I try to paint wet on wet. I apply clean water on an area with an evenly glossy wash. The problem comes when I apply the colour. The color goes on in little dots not spreading out. Please let me know how to apply colour to the wet-on-wet method properly.

    • Certainly! When painting with the wet-on-wet watercolor technique, it’s important to achieve the right balance of moisture on the paper and in the brush. If your color is not spreading as expected, it might be because the paper is either too wet or not wet enough, or the paint might be too thick or too dry.

      Here are some tips to help you apply color properly in the wet-on-wet technique:

      1. **Prep Your Paper**: Make sure your paper is evenly damp. You want a sheen on the paper but not so wet that it creates puddles. If the paper is too wet, the color will flow uncontrollably. If it’s too dry, the paint won’t spread well.

      2. **Consistency of Paint**: Your paint should be mixed with enough water to be fluid, but not so watery that it lacks pigment. If the paint is too thick, it will not flow easily on the wet surface.

      3. **Application**: When you apply the paint, touch the brush gently to the paper and let the water do the work. You don’t need to use force; the paint should spread out from the point of contact.

      4. **Timing**: The timing of when you add paint to the wet paper is crucial. If you drop in color too soon when the paper is very wet, you may get those dots or blooms. If you wait until the paper has started to dry and lose its sheen, you’ll have more control over the spread of the paint.

      5. **Brush Control**: Use a brush that’s damp but not dripping with water. If there’s too much water in your brush, it can disrupt the even surface of water on the paper and cause the paint to spread in an uncontrolled manner.

      For beginners, it can be helpful to watch tutorials and demonstrations to get a better sense of the technique. For instance, the YouTube video [“WATERCOLOR TUTORIAL // Wet on Wet Techniques”](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yU_IUaa-7W0) provides a beginner-friendly guide on basic wet-on-wet techniques, which could be very useful for visual learning.

      Remember, mastering watercolor techniques takes practice, so don’t be discouraged by early challenges. Keep experimenting with different levels of wetness and paint consistency until you find what works best for you.


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