Watercolour Techniques

So you consider yourself an artsy person, but don’t necessarily know where to start or what to do when doing watercolours? We’ve got you covered with a few watercolour techniques to get you on your way to being the next James McNeill Whistler.

The first step to mastering watercolour techniques is a flat wash. This is nothing more than a smooth, even layer of watercolour paint. You will want to use a large flat brush for this technique to limit how many brush strokes you’ll need to make. To perform this technique, take your brush and wet it with paint and water, then move it across the page, keeping a straight line. Don’t apply too much pressure or the effect won’t be successful.

After you’ve mastered the flat wash, you will want to look into graded wash. As you could gather from its name, a graded wash gradually fades and lightens with each parallel stroke. For the lighter pigment, add a little more water with each stroke.

Yet another basic technique, ‘wet in wet’ creates incredible blurred effects. You will need a spray bottle and sponge for this technique. Spray a little water on the paper – a light mist will do, you don’t want to soak the paper. Next, even it out with your sponge. Now you can paint over this while the paper is still damp.

Dry brushing is a technique that can be used with various kinds of paints. As the name suggests, you will need to use mostly dry paint on dry paper. Mix your watercolour paint with very little water and start painting.

Spray techniques can create some wonderful effects with watercolours. Simply grab a large flat brush or toothbrush and start having fun. Mix a moderate amount of water and paint loaded onto your brush and then just use your fingers to brush back the bristles and watch as the paint splashes over your page.

Now come a few fun techniques for you to try and add some texture!

  • For a soft effect, use rolled up balls of tissue instead of your brush. You can also use the tissue to dab the paint dry after you’ve added it to the paper with a brush.
  • Another technique to add texture is to sprinkle salt over wet paint. The salt will gather the pigment and result in a beautiful effect. Once the paint is dry, simply brush the salt off with a clean, dry brush.
  • Want a rough effect? Simply place crumpled wrapping paper over your wet paint and leave it to dry. Then lift it off once dry.
  • Finally, spray/spatter/drip some alcohol to push the paint away and create an interesting effect. You should do this while the paint is still tacky, but no longer wet.

These are just a few basic, fun techniques for you to try as you start your journey into watercolours. As you continue, you will start taking on more complex methods and techniques to make your art look incredible. If you have any other methods you think we should know about, let us know!