How do I get started with watercolours?

🎨 Are you new to painting and don’t know where to start?
🎨 Are you wanting to try a new medium?
🎨 Are you interested in learning a new style?
Have you answered yes to any of these questions? Then this may be the post for you….read on and see if it helps. 🤓

First of all you will obviously need some equipment, and until you know whether you are going to like painting detailed watercolour, you may not want to splash out lots and lots of your hard earned cash! Above I’ve put together an overview of a basic kit which should get you started.
1. Winsor and Newton Student Cotman Pans
2. Masking Fluid
3. Pipette
4. Lamp black tube paint
5. Old brushes and a ruling pen for applying masking fluid
6. Mechanical pencil
7. Cotman Winsor & Newton Brush Series 111 (Size 00)
8. Rosemary & Co Series 93, size 1
9. Winsor and Newton Size 5 or 6 Acrylic brush for mixing
10. Opaque white tube paint
11. Putty rubber
12. Ceramic palette
This page on my website may help you too: Materials I use

So, you’ve got your basic kit and now you would like to start painting. I would suggest you start by watching some of my tips and tricks videos on YouTube or Patreon. You need to become familiar with the watercolour medium; get used to mixing your paints, build your confidence with how much water to add and work out which brushes work for you. Explore the different ways in which you can use your brushes. Have fun, play with your paints and really get to know them. Find out how your different colours behave – are they opaque, transparent or semi-transparent. What depth of colour can you achieve by layering your paint/glazing? Practice painting thin lines and detailed shapes.

Working on applying washes and painting just an outline and then filling it in, is a really good starter project. These projects give you colour mixing practice, they help build your confidence on applying washes but then you are challenged to paint a detailed outline with a very small brush. This really builds your brush control and will be very good preparation for painting future more detailed projects. I have a couple available on Patreon based on silhouettes, but you can easily make up your own versions of these – have fun and enjoy the process. Make your little projects into cards, bookmarks or little framed pictures, I am sure your friends and family would be pleased to receive them.

When you feel ready to move on to something a little more challenging – I would suggest starting with the robin tutorial. This is a completely free tutorial on Patreon – the video takes you step by step through every stage of painting this little chirpy chappy! I talk as I paint so you see every stage, I try not to use jargon and I explain everything I am doing. You will learn how to work wet in wet, to apply washes, how to layer your paint and achieve fine detail. I even take you through painting the wood and using watercolour white.
Alternatively this lesson is available as a DVD or a download. Or, should you prefer reading how to do something, check out the PDF version of the tutorial instead.

The most important thing is to make sure you have a good block of time to sit, relax and enjoy the painting process, preferably undisturbed for a good hour or two. Before I went professional a few years ago I used to try and paint for two or three hours a week, it helped me switch off from the normal humdrum of life. I worked on maintenance for many years so a means of relaxing after a physical week was important.
Always take your time and never rush a painting, you know I always say put the kettle on or take a few minutes away every hour. This way you will come back with fresh eyes and spot things which may need adjusting. Sitting close to a painting and working on detail does sometimes prevent you from seeing the full picture. Other than that have fun and ‘smile’, I even sing to myself………….preferably not on camera!
Your next challenge will of course be choosing what to work on next…..well that is another story altogether.
Paul 🤓