My favourite ways to use watercolour (with tips!)

By: Helen

My very first success with using watercolour paint happened when I won an art competition in primary school, I painted a sunset with a small sail boat on the sea. I’ve moved on a bit from painting badly drawn boats and now mainly focus on plants or weird looking faces. Out of all the mediums I’ve used over the years, watercolour has become my all time favourite, with pen ink coming in second place.
My reason for gravitating towards watercolour was due to the delicateness of it, as well as its ease of use. If you’re looking for a medium that creates clean lines and block colour then watercolour might not be the one for you, but if you enjoy washes of colour that blend with water to create interesting textures then it’s perfect.
There are various types of watercolour you can buy, such as half pans that you can buy separately and put in your own palette, tubes, ready made palettes or bottles of liquid watercolour. I tend to buy individual colours of half pans and put them in empty palettes. My choice of paint is Windsor & Newton professional watercolour, as their colours are beautifully rich and smooth to use.

The outside of my very loved Windsor & Newton palette

The inside of my very loved Windsor & newton palette

As you can see all the half pans can fit snuggly inside, which is handy for carrying around. Another reason I use half pans is they’re a lot less messy than the other options; you can simply dip a wet paintbrush in and start painting away!

My methods

One of my favourite ways to use watercolour which is super easy and creates interesting textures; is the wet on wet technique. To do this you’ll need some good quality watercolour paper that can handle a lot of water; I enjoy using The Langton hot pressed paper as it’s great quality but not outrageously expensive. You’ll also need watercolour brushes and whatever type of watercolour paint you want! I use fairly cheap brushes as I’m not made of money; you can find affordable ones from amazon. Cass art also sell own brand brushes which are nice to use.
This technique is fun not just for painting a finished piece, but to play around with if you’re new to watercolour.
Firstly, you’ll need to wet the entirety of the paper, I usually do this using a wide brush, you can also use a sponge if you prefer. Blot off any excess water with a dry sponge or some kitchen towel.
Then start painting directly on the wet paper! You can create washes of colour, build up backgrounds, paint a spooky face; anything you want.

I used the wet on wet technique to paint this friendly mushroom. You can see the paint has bled out and mixed the colours up. I let it all dry before adding some details.

Another method I use is simply pencil drawing an outline of a idea, and building it up from light to dark with washes of paint. If I’m trying to paint a finished piece I’ll usually add details right at the end using thicker mixes of paint to make it more opaque.

Draw out your design, I went for a woodland theme.

Add some washes of colour to create light shadows, I recommend using a fine bristle brush for tiny areas.

Start to build up the painting with darker colours to add depth and dark shadows.

Add details with thicker, more opaque paint!

Whatever way you use watercolour, we would love to see what kind of art you create! You can submit your creations for the chance to be featured on our gallery page.

Happy painting

Smile :)
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