Painting Blog > Teaching, Watercolor > Learning to paint watercolor

Learning to paint watercolor

Originally posted on Mai, 3, 2007

"Winter Tree", watercolor, 19cm x 25cm,<br /> 100%cotton paper, 2005

The first rule of watercolor is that there are no rules. This may not be helpful but that is the way it is. It is part of what makes watercolour difficult. On the positive side, it is also what makes watercolour so much fun. (There are many people who once they begin painting in watercolour forsake all the other mediums.)

I hesitate to give specific instructions on technique. There are plenty of books written on this. It would be good to study everything you can get your hands on. It is only through much trial and error that you can determine the things you need to master. You need to prepare yourself for the fact that this could take a great deal of time. How long? The answer depends upon how involved you want to get. Keep it simple. Buy good materials and keep it simple. You do not need a large palette. A warm and cold version of the primary colors is sufficient. A green such as viridian, and a cadmium orange could prove useful. It is necessary to study the characteristics of pigments. It is only through doing this that you will begin to understand what fits your needs.

Some, if not most people, will think this advice not direct enough, or practical for the task at hand of learning to paint watercolors. This is dependant on the result you want. If you want to, in the shortest possible period of time, learn to do a “pretty” picture follow one of the formulas from “the paint by the numbers” school. I’m being a bit harsh. Please forgive me. I put it this way because I’m sick to death with mediocrity. If you are going to do something we owe it to ourselves to do it well! It is essential that we enjoy the process of learning. Painting our first painting is not that important.

Let me say that I have much respect for anyone engaged in the creative process.

Bon courage,
Denis
Published in french as Apprendre à peindre à l’aquarelle

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