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Watercolour Painting – 'but what if I make a mistake'

Watercolour painting is a wonderful — and one that scares many people, but I’d like to try to convince you on how enjoyable and relaxing watercolour painting can be while still getting some amazing ‘results’ ie paintings you love.

I know we all fall into the trap, you see a beautiful watercolour painting and say, “I want to paint like that”! This then holds us back because you just don’t know how to start, plus you fear failure.

This makes me sad; I think everyone has potential. Plus, you are missing out on the joy of creating art, and watercolour painting can be such a great escape.

That's why I've created this tips and tricks guide to help you get started on the right foot and avoid common mistakes along the way. Whether you're an aspiring artist or simply looking to explore a new hobby, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and techniques you need to start creating beautiful watercolour paintings in no time.

My first watercolours

With a few simple steps, anyone can discover their artistic side and achieve moments of peace and tranquillity. Enjoying the ‘flow’ and letting the paints do its thing.

I wasn’t 100% confident in my painting abilities when I first started. My first watercolours were far from perfect. I used to be very self-conscious about my paintings and I was reticent to show people.

But the joy of painting in watercolour keeps me coming back again and again. The escape and meditative state I’m in, hours just pass by.

I’d like to help you overcome what’s holding you back and discover the first steps to get started with this wonderful art medium.

Watercolour painting can be rewarding and approachable. Let’s looks at some activities to get you going on your creative journey.

Watercolour playful nature

You must learn to let go and let the ‘medium’ do its thing.

Watercolour is a medium that allows you to express your creativity in a unique and personal way. But for those new to this medium, it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Watercolour painting has a very playful nature. Pigment and water often do what they like. They blend together to produce gorgeous patterns of colour.

When I teach watercolours, I start with colour washes. Wetting the paper with clear water, then painting or ‘pocking’ colours – watching the colours spread. It’s haphazard, a little messy, and scary as you have little control.

Not all washes work out and not all colours mix the way I’d like. It’s trial and error. Sometimes I do multiple layers of washes, called glazing—drying in between each wash.


The wetness and the flow of water, and the transparent characteristics this creates, are what determine the outcome of your paintings. The rule to remember is this. Water will always flow from wet to less wet. An area of wet paint will seek equilibrium and flow towards the area of lesser wetness. The water carries pigments from one place to another. And water evaporates and dries quickly. So your window of opportunity for playing with the paint is sometimes short (that’s why I try to use plenty of water in my mixes and keep coloured washes wet while working).

What are the strengths and challenges of watercolour painting?

Watercolours are very versatile and work well with pastels, pen and ink and other water-based paint. Learning to control colours and avoiding a muddy appearance is one of the biggest challenges in using watercolours.

My tips for watercolour painting

Use two water cups, try to keep one always clean. Plus, I have a piece of paper towel and a scrap of paper. I use paper towel to clean my brush, dab my brush, and dab the paper as I work. The scrap of watercolour paper is helpful to test your shades and water-to-paint ratio before moving to your final piece.

Work in layers from light to dark. Because watercolour is a transparent medium, it's important to build up your layers from lighter colours to darker colours. Plan ahead and keep in mind which areas you want to keep white or light. Masking fluid is a great way to reserve areas of white on your painting.

Water to paint ratio will change depending on what you're trying to achieve. Too much water can result in colours that are too light. It can also make paint spread more than you'd like and cause colours to mix and become muddy. Always make sure to wash your brush well between colours so you don't get muddy mixes. Large washes require more water, and detail spots require less water

Test paper and palette. It is best to use a palette to mix your colours and add the appropriate amount of water. Check the colour saturation on a scrap of watercolour paper to see if more colour or more water needs to be added before painting on your piece.

Dry-time varies depending on what you're trying to achieve in your painting. If you want colours to blend and bleed into each other, you can apply layers on top of wet paint. Be careful not to over-layer with wet paints because the colours could easily become muddy.

If you want to add new colour layers and details over the top of a base you've laid down, be patient and make sure the layer underneath is dry first, or the colours will run into one another and you won’t have defined edges and shapes. It takes time, patience and practice.

Why not try a class

Through one of my classes, you’ll develop your confidence and expertise with brush strokes, colour mixing and application that will enhance your paintings, reduce stress level thus will provide the felling of happiness and satisfaction.

Now’s the time to start a new skill, learning how to paint with watercolours.

My classes are designed for beginners and anyone who would love to paint in watercolour but aren't sure where to start.

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