Watercolour Painting for Beginners (11 Steps to Building Your Confidence)

For centuries, watercolour painting has been a popular art form and often records florals, still life, landscapes and other scenes. The beauty of watercolour paintings lies in the translucent nature of the paint, which can create an ethereal effect. It is one of the most relaxing and creative activities that you can do. It allows you to explore your creativity without limitations, making it an excellent hobby for anyone who enjoys painting or drawing. However, many beginners are intimidated by watercolours because they think it requires technical skills. But skill can only be discovered through initiation and developed with practice.

This article will discuss 11 steps you can take to get into watercolour painting, highlighting some of the basics you need to know, and how to easily get started.

1. Appreciate The Beauty Of Watercolour

The first step to getting into watercolour painting is to appreciate the beauty of this medium. Watercolour painting is recognised for its exquisite and delicate qualities because it is all about thin washes of transparent colours. Artists often use a limited palette of colours to create beautiful and harmonious paintings. The experienced artist can achieve many different shades and hues by using just a few colours.

Moreover, watercolour paintings are mostly made on paper, and the off-white of the painting surface gives the watercolour art translucency and vibrancy. The light reflecting off the paper presents the paintings with an unmatched luminosity in other mediums.

By taking the time to appreciate the beauty of watercolour paintings, you can begin to understand why artists have used this medium for centuries.

2. Look At Other Watercolour Paintings

Take some time to look at paintings done in watercolour by other artists and appreciate how the paint flows and blends together. Try to find artworks with an ethereal or dream-like quality, as these are often a good representation of what can be achieved with watercolours. You can learn a lot by seeing how other watercolour painters have tackled different subjects and scenes.

Not only should we look at paintings from our own country or region, but it is also beneficial to see work from all over the world. This will give us a more well-rounded understanding of watercolour painting and its use in different ways.

Many art museums have collections of watercolour paintings, and these are also great places to start when looking at the work of other artists. Online galleries and art websites are also good sources. They often have high-quality images that allow you to see the details of the painting more clearly.

To further explore the world of watercolour arts, check out online communities for painters, such as Etsy. There, you will be able to see thousands of beautiful watercolour paintings and get ideas for your work. By looking at other paintings, you can get a sense of the different techniques used and learn about some of the challenges that artists face when working with this medium. You can also understand what type of paintings work well, as some compositions are more suited to this medium than others.

3. Read Up Beginner’s Guides

The next step is to read up on various beginner’s guides to watercolour painting. This will give you an understanding of the basics, such as mixing colours and what type of brush to use for different strokes. Once you understand the basic concepts, it will be easier to experiment and create your pieces.

For those who want an easy and quick guide that will show them how to use watercolour paint, books and articles are also dedicated specifically for this purpose. These resources can be very useful if you do not have any experience working with paints or other materials. Don’t forget about using free resources, too. Websites are often overflowing with articles on watercolour painting that may be useful to those who want reliable advice or direction when it comes to learning the basics.

4. Understand The Basics of Watercolour Painting

To start painting in watercolour, it is important to understand the basics of this medium. Watercolours are transparent and mixed together on paper, so it is important to plan your painting well. You need to ponder about what colours you want to use and where they should be applied.

Watercolour paint can dry quickly, so it is best to work from lightest to darkest for the colours not to get muddy. It is also important to understand how watercolours mix and apply this knowledge when planning your painting before putting the brush on paper. This will ensure that you have a successful painting. Another important aspect is the thickness and texture added to your art by applying different moisture levels with your brush. You can achieve this effect in many ways – from wetting just part of the paper or spattering over an area already painted.

5. Think About Your Subject

When starting a painting, you should always take some time to think about the subject matter. By thinking about your subject matter ahead of time, you can develop ideas for how to approach the painting and what techniques might be best suited to your subject. This will make the entire painting process easier and more rewarding because you are working with an idea rather than simply figuring out what to paint once you have started on a blank canvas.

For example, if you want to do a watercolour painting of fruit in still life fashion, it might be best to select a few different types of fruit and spend time painting them in detail. You can focus on the fruit’s shapes, colours, and textures. On the other hand, if you want to do a landscape painting, it is best to select a scene you are familiar with. This way, you can spend more time on the composition and details of the painting rather than worrying about how to create a realistic landscape.

6. Purchase Materials For Beginners

6a. Watercolour Set

Once you have decided on your subject and gathered some ideas to approach the painting, it is time to start gathering supplies. A basic, all-round watercolour set will be sufficient. This will come with different colours of paint and brushes that are specifically designed for this medium. 

You can also choose to buy a beginner’s kit based on the type of paints included in it. Most kits have several different types of reds, blues and yellows, which can be a good place for beginners to start. You should not feel limited by the paints that come in your watercolour set. You may choose to add different types of paint over time as you become more comfortable working with this medium and better understand what colours are best suited for certain projects.

6b. Brushes

Watercolour brushes come in various shapes and sizes, which can be useful if you want to do detailed work or broader brush strokes. Beyond the standard watercolour set, other items can help make your painting experience more comfortable and enjoyable – such as paper towels for cleaning excess paint off your brush, a palette for mixing paint, and a spray bottle for wetting the painting surface.

These items can be found at local art or craft stores or online through specialty retailers. It is best to shop around and see what works best for you. There is no “right” way to do things when it comes to art, so find what works best for you and develop on it.

6c. Paper

In addition to the watercolour set, brush, and other items, you should also purchase several sheets of different types and sizes of paper. This will allow you to experiment with various techniques and work on a larger scale when necessary. However, many beginners only use one type of paper because they find it easier and more comfortable.

You should also purchase watercolour paper that is thick and has a good weight, so as to prevent bleeding through the back of your painting.

7. Start With A Basic Painting Project

With all the preparations out of the way, you can now start your painting project. 

You can try many different paintings, but it is usually best to start with a relatively simple piece. This way, you do not become overwhelmed by too much detail or struggle with technical issues such as painting shadows and highlights in watercolour.

One of the simplest paintings that you can try is a basic landscape or seascape. For this type of painting, you will need to select a scene that you are familiar with and gather reference photos if necessary. It is also helpful to faintly sketch out your composition before starting the actual painting.

Once your composition is sketched out, you can start painting with the background or most distant scene first (e.g. the sky). This can give you a base to work with and help keep your colours consistent. You can then move on to the land or sea and add additional details such as trees, rocks, or boats.

It is important to remember that watercolour paintings are not always perfect. In fact, the mistakes and areas of uncertainty often make them unique. This can be an important skill to have as you become more experienced with watercolour painting because this medium does not always work out how you expect or want it to.

8. Continue Painting

Once you have completed your first painting, it is time to start working on your next one. 

This can be a different scene or a continuation of the first painting. You can also experiment with new techniques and styles that you have learned from watching other artists or reading about their work. The sky is the limit, so there are no limits on what type of painting you can do. You can also practice your drawing skills because this will give you a better understanding of how watercolour works and help you create more accurate paintings in the future.

9. Learn Watercolour Painting Tips

Now that we have talked about some of the basics of watercolour painting, let’s go over a few more tips to help you on your journey to developing your skills further!

One of the most important things to remember is that it is all about experimenting. Because this medium can be unpredictable, you will need to embrace this by trying different techniques and seeing how they work out for your art. For example, if you want to add more depth with colour, try using a wet brush to lift some of the colours from your painting surface. In addition, if you are having trouble with a particular area of your painting, wait for it to dry and then paint over that spot. This will give you a clean slate that has been primed by watercolour paint already.

Watercolour is an incredibly versatile medium, so don’t be afraid to try different things and see what works for you.

10. Learn Watercolour Techniques Over Time

As you become more and more confident, you can start practicing various techniques that will help give life to your project. Some of the most common techniques include Wet on Wet and Dry Brush. However, beginners should be aware of other types such as Washes and Glazes. If possible, practice these techniques before trying them on a real project so that you can get the hang of them and feel more comfortable with your brushes.

Wet on Wet Technique

The Wet on Wet technique is a popular technique because it is relatively simple and gives a painter a lot of control over their work. This technique involves painting on top of already wet paint, which allows for seamless transitions between colours and helps maintain the freshness of the paint.

You will need to wet your paper with a brush before adding the paint to use this technique. You can then start painting with various colours and watch as they blend to create a beautiful artwork. It is essential to work quickly because the paint will dry relatively fast when using this technique.

Dry Brush Technique 

The Dry Brush technique is the opposite of the Wet on Wet Technique. Instead, it involves painting with a brush with very little paint. This will allow you to create more detailed artwork and highlights in your painting while maintaining the overall colours.

To use this technique, you will need to load your brush with paint and then dab off the excess until it is mostly dry. You can then start painting in the desired areas, adding more paint as needed. This technique is often used for paintings with many details, such as roses and other flowers.


The Wash technique is another popular option for watercolour paintings because it gives a painter flexibility and control. This technique involves adding a large amount of paint to your brush and then using broad strokes to cover the entire area. You can then go back in and add details with the Dry Brush or the Wet on Wet technique. This technique is perfect for paintings with many colours and can create beautiful landscapes, flowers, and other scenes.


The Glaze technique is similar to the wash technique. However, it involves adding less paint to your brush and using it more subtly. This will help you add highlights and depth to your painting without overpowering the colours.

To use this technique, you will need to mix a small amount of paint with water until it is thin enough to be used as a glaze. You can then start applying it in the desired areas, building up the layers for more impact. Glazes are often used to create landscapes and portraits.

11. Practice Every Day

No matter which techniques match your style, it is important to practice regularly to improve your skills. This can be done by painting simple objects such as flowers or leaves in real life or from reference photos. The more you practice, the better you will become and the more confident you will feel when it comes time to start painting something original.

Final Words

Watercolour painting can be fun and a great way to express yourself artistically. By learning the different techniques and practicing every day, you can create beautiful paintings that bring joy to others. If you are just starting, keep practicing the interesting techniques, and don’t be afraid to experiment. You can always start a new sheet if something goes wrong or add more watercolour paints until it looks right.

The sky is the limit for watercolour painting, so have fun and let your creativity flow. Get your paints and brushes and get started on this exciting journey into the world of watercolour painting!