A Quick Start to Watercolour

So you've heard all the myths about how hard watercolour is. You want to give it a go but you're not sure where to begin. There are so many products, so many types of brushes and so many colours to choose from. If you would like to have a go at watercolour but don't have a clue where to begin, read on. Hopefully this blog will ease you into the world of watercolour and help you start your journey.

So watercolour has to be one of my favourite mediums and it's fair to say watercolour definitely has a mind of it's own. Don't let that put you off though. Once you get the gist of this quirky medium then you'll never be able to put your brush down.

Where to begin - so my advice would be to start small and paint what you enjoy. No point trying to create a masterpiece without first harnessing the basic skills. Try and find artists you like and mimic their techniques until you develop your own. There are also plenty of helpful (and cheap) online classes with platforms such as Domestika

What to use - keep it simple. Start with lower budget brushes, you can usually buy these as a set from a number of art shops and online retailers (one I use regularly is Jacksons Art, but there are many other retailers besides).

Colours - there are so many to choose from so I've listed a good starter pallet (below) that I still use quite often, you can start with this then add to it as you get used to which colours you prefer. The science of colour can become complicated very quickly, with so much to learn including warm and cool colours that vary with each brand, colour mixing, types of watercolours available including tubes and pans. So start small and work your way into it at a pace you're comfortable with.

  • Raw Sienna

  • Burnt sienna

  • Raw Umber

  • Burnt Umber

  • Alizarin Crimson

  • Cadmium Red

  • Yellow Ochre

  • Cadmium Yellow

  • Cadmium Yellow Deep

  • French Ultramarine

  • Pthalo Blue

  • Cerulean Blue

  • Viridian Green

  • Sap Green

Surface Types - I prefer to use a heavy weight hot press paper.... 'hot press' I hear you say 'what the heck is that?' - let me give you a quick insight into the types of surfaces available.

Hot Press - this is a smooth paper with a very flat surface. Great for finer details.

Cold Press - This has a rough, textured, bumpy surface. Using this paper can give some really impressive effects when the watercolour runs between the ridges of the paper.

Clayboard / Ampersand Aquaboard - this is an incredibly smooth surface and gives the most awesome bloom effects. From my own experience I find this quite hard to use and feel it requires much practice but that's not to say that you shouldn't have a go. Small boards are available in art shops and from online retailers.

Watercolour Grounds - these are used to paint a surface so it is suitable for use with watercolours. For example if you have a piece of board or canvas that you would like to paint upon but it is absorbent, then a couple of coats of watercolour grounds will render it fit for use as a watercolour canvas.

So there you have it, my quick tips for getting started with watercolour. Oh and don't forget the water. Have fun, happy painting and may your creativity bloom.

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