easy watercolour painting tutorials

Easy Watercolour Painting Ideas: for Beginners

Can’t decide what to paint? Here are some incredibly easy watercolour painting ideas. First learn some simple watercolour tips. Then put your skills to practice with some easy to follow tutorials that will get you creating beautiful artworks in no time.

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Before you get started: Watercolour painting tips

Watercolour painting is a great medium for beginners because it requires so few supplies to get started. Some watercolour techniques are relatively easy to pick up. By learning and combining a few different techniques, you’ll be able to achieve varied and striking effects.

Before we look at some easy watercolour painting ideas and tutorials, check out these tips to help you feel prepared to paint.

Tip 1: Get the right supplies

Here’s what you need to start watercolour painting:

  1. Watercolour paint: I recommend Daniel Smith, Sennelier, Schmincke, Winsor & Newton. Find a set of colours to give you a great range for a manner of subjects.
  2. Watercolour paper: cold pressed paper is textured and absorbent (it holds a lot of water) so it’s great for heavy washes. If you want to use less heavy washes but render fine details, I recommend getting hot pressed paper.
  3. Watercolour brushes: get some extra soft brushes that hold a lot of water. You don’t need many brushes for watercolour painting. You can get away with just using one smaller size (2 or 4). If you want to cover large areas of paper, get a larger sized round or flat brush.
  4. Jars for water

Tip 2: Learn some basic techniques

Flat wash

Create a flat wash by evenly applying colour to an area of your painting. Flat washes are generally used for filling in larger areas of a painting. Use a soft, larger brush to cover the surface, as you want to ensure there are as few visible brushstrokes as possible.

Load your brush with paint and water and lightly apply to the paper. Brush from one side of the section you’re painting to the other. Pick up pooled paint and sweep it to the other side. Repeat this action until you have an even wash.

Lifting watercolour technique

Lifting is a popular watercolour technique that can be used to create areas of whitespace and reveal highlights. Colours are lifted from the paper to uncover the layers beneath. You will need something absorbent, such as a paint brush or sponge to lift the paint while it’s still wet.

This technique works better on hot pressed paper rather than cold pressed paper, as it is less absorbent. Optionally, you can also use a lifting medium to cleanly lift colour from the paper. Apply the lifting medium to the paper in areas you want to remove. Leave the medium to dry on the paper. Then apply the colour. Get a clean brush and lift away the pigment. Even staining pigments won’t leave a mark on the paper when using this medium.

For more technique tips, read our watercolour techniques tutorial.

Tip 3: Paint light to dark

Start by establishing where the lightest areas of the painting are and gradually work in the shadows. Increase the contrasts and deepen shadows layer by layer. Dark colours are hard to remove from a watercolour painting, so it’s best to be gradual with the application. Use masking fluid or lifting medium to conserve areas of the painting that you later want to leave white.

Best easy watercolour painting ideas & tutorials

Watercolour sunset tutorials

Use vibrant pinks, reds, yellows and oranges to create a striking watercolour sunset. Layer in mountains for a dramatic effect. This tutorial is perfect for beginners as the painting is broken down into easy repeatable steps. Watch as the painting comes alive.

Take a watercolour sunset painting course on Skillshare: this course demonstrates the magic of luminous watercolour sunsets, with 5 follow along projects to try.

Join Skillshare and get a 14 day free trial to thousands of classes, including a huge range of easy watercolour painting tutorials.

Watercolour flowers tutorials

In this beginner’s tutorial, learn how to paint 12 different flowers step-by-step. These flowers are quick and wonderfully relaxing to paint. Paint your own watercolour peonies, rosebuds and lavender plants in an illustrative style.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive course to follow with projects, in this Skillshare class learn to paint a simple but detailed looking flower with leaves. The teacher Angèle Kamp will show you how to create a sketch before you paint and then show you some of the techniques you need to create the painting.

This watercolour flower class on Skillshare will show you how to create ten different flowers. Including poppies, roses, anemones and much more.

Watercolour portrait tutorial

Watercolour portraits take practice to get right. The subtleties in skin tones and complexities in facial details can put beginners off wanting to learn. However, if you break the process down in steps and follow the tips in this tutorial, it can start to feel like less of a challenge.

Learn to make loose, expressive portraits in this Skillshare class. The comprehensive tutorial shows artists how to use basic brush stroke techniques and how to mix neutrals. The teacher Luz Elena Caballero shows viewers how to render the eyes, nose and lips.

Understanding how to mix different skin tones and make the colours appear realistic is perhaps the most challenging part of portrait painting. In this Skillshare class learn how to mix pale, medium, warm, tan and dark skin tones.

Galaxy painting watercolour tutorial

Galaxies are a fun easy subject for beginner watercolour painters. Painting galaxies involves lots of wet on wet painting, so that colours swirl into one another.

After waiting for the galaxy colours to dry, dot stars on top with white gel pen. Alternatively, you could dot some opaque white gouache or acrylic with a spotter brush.

If you want to take a longer course, check out this 1 1/2 hour watercolour galaxy tutorial on Skillshare. Learn how to pick colours for your galaxy, how to avoid common beginner mistakes and how to create white stars without using gouache.

Get a watercolour painting kit

easy watercolour painting kit

Get this kit

This beginner friendly watercolour kit comes with a Daler Rowney watercolour pan set of 12, three brushes, Daler Rowney paper and the book New Botanical. The book includes 30 painting projects, including flowers and foliage. This is the perfect set to get any beginner started on their watercolour painting journey.

Want to take your watercolour skills to the next level?

If you want a more in depth guide on how to get started with watercolour painting as a beginner, read our watercolour for beginners tutorial. In it, find a detailed description on the supplies you need and how to use them. Plus discover some brush work techniques and how to mix colours. Find all of our watercolour painting tutorials here.

Easy watercolour painting ideas: Pin it!


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