How to paint with watercolors

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watercolor painting
Watercolor is one of the most popular paints
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Know how to paint with watercolors and you can create watercolor works of art

The soft and subtle hues of watercolors often attract artists and non-artists to the paintings in which they are used. There's just something about the colors that makes you want to take a closer look. Although watercolors often look muted and faded, they are anything but drab. In fact, the smokey blues and grays often give you the impression that there's something dramatic lurking underneath.

When you know how to paint with watercolors, you have a whole new way to express yourself at your disposal.

Your Brush

Although you could probably use just about any type of brush you want while working with watercolor, you may not come out with a good result.

Watercolors work best with certain paint brushes. For instance, a short-handled sable brush with a round tip complements the watercolor consistency and allows it to lay on the canvas beautifully. The flexible hairs also allow you to perform different strokes to give you the outcome you desire.

Holding the Brush

You may think the way you hold a brush is pretty basic; however, your grip can affect the look of the paint. The classic grip is when you hold the brush like you would a pen or pencil. Holding the brush this way is perfect for when you sign your name, when you draw hash marks or when you paint with using the pointillism technique.

The pinch hold is like grabbing a pencil off of the table. The key is to use two to four fingers when holding the brush. Holding it in this manner doesn't give you much control, but allows you to draw vertical strokes quite well. It also creates a signature texture when you stroke the brush back and forth.

Another hold is called the screwdriver. As its name implies, you hold the brush like you would a screwdriver. Rolling your wrists while you move the brush side to side is a useful way to paint large blocks of canvas.


Watercolor painters have a variety of techniques under their belts. Each technique results in a different look, which can truly enhance your work.

One of the techniques is the controlled wash. This technique involves touching your canvas lightly, then lifting the brush away from the canvas so that a paint bead appears. You then use the bead to cover your canvas with the paint. This is perhaps the most popular stroke and offers painters much control and consistency in their painting.

Charging, or blending, your colors is a technique that takes your work to the next level. However, it's not as easy as simply mixing two colors together. You'll need to paint one color, then you'll dip your brush into the color you want to blend. Lightly touch the canvas with your brush until you release a bead of paint. Continuously touch the bead with your brush and drag it down to bring the color across the page. There's no need to actually let the brush hairs touch the page; only the bead of paint. Keep going with this stroke until you have reached your desired goal.

Learning how to paint with watercolors takes time and practice. Using this type of medium requires you to paint with specific techniques in order to get the look you want.

Although it can get quite frustrating, you can become the painter you want and gorgeous works of art over time.


Watercolor Painting: How to Hold a Watercolor Brush

Watercolor Painting and Projects: How to Paint a Controlled Wash

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