Think again: Watercolor painting isn’t difficult!

Contrary to what people think… Painting with Watercolors isn’t difficult to paint!

painting with watercolor

A5 watercolour: Basically a simple composition. Missed spots and finer details were filled-in and added during the finishing-off process.

Why do people think painting with watercolor is difficult?

When they first tried painting with watercolors, they felt they had no control. For three main reasons I have listed below. Things I have noticed while teaching watercolour beginners:

  1. They get impatient when things don’t happen as they expected and as quickly as they wanted.
  2. And got fed-up when the paint bleds all over the place into other previous wet painted areas. This happened because they wanted to paint a whole painting straight off, first time, without first learning the basics.
  3. So they just charged in, hoping somehow things would just happen miraculously with the switch of their brush.

So why is it that some people become great watercolorists?

  1. They loved colouring-in and drawing so much as a child, that they wanted to learn more about art.
  2. Over time they got the desire to paint with watercolours, because it looked so easy to do, and also that it created such exciting blends and washes of colour.
  3. Their realized even if it took time to perfect, that didn’t matter, because it would be a fun activity, they could and would enjoy doing for the rest of their lives.
  4. The more they got involved and learnt to control the thrilling idiosyncrasies of watercolour, the more they became obsessed with the technologies of painting. The `rollercoaster’ of failure and success to them, became an adventure, they just couldn’t stop!

So what is the secret to painting with watercolours:

  1. Simplify your composition. Avoid complex detail. Desire what is most impressive.
  2. Be patient with yourself. Don’t rush in like a `bull in a china shop’. Think before you act. Plan your moves and the possible stages required to achieve your goals.
  3. Watch what you are doing: Where your brush is going. How close your wet brush is to what is already wet.
  4. Why, because watercolour is liquid. Obviously and naturally water flows and runs more easily where it is already wet!
  5. Make sure you have the right mixture and strength of hue, and check the amount of liquid/paint on your brush, before you apply your brush to your paper.
  6. And observe the wetness or dryness of the paper and paint already there, before putting your brush to paper. Even if it means waiting a few minutes before you can add another colour. This is where artistic know-how and patience comes in.

Artistic know-how:

You can read books how things are done, but trying out those techniques for yourself, is the `proof of the pudding’. The more you practice those techniques the more you have control of them. Theory alone isn’t good enough… your passion and ability to master them is what counts.

Artistic patience:

When you’ve been an artist long enough, you realize art it is an emotional activity. That means using all your senses, to control and create all the things you imagine and desire to paint. Because you can’t reproduce what God created so beautiful, creativity is part reality and part fantasy. Therefore intuition is part spiritual and part knowledge. Something you gain through careful observance and enduring experience.

There are other further tips and free downloads, on how to paint with watercolour:

Check out the free eBooks on this website:

Drawing: It’s easy to DRAW things!

Here’s a SIMPLE drawing lesson strategy,

That will turn you into a profound artist overnight!

Select and draw simple basic shapes to begin with. Then move on to more complex shapes later, after you have learnt how to capture the basic shapes of objects:

Drawing and painting with simplicity

A5 watercolour: Simple painting of houses.

Oh, you say you can’t even draw, now!

That’s rubbish! Drawing isn’t hard. Anyone can draw and paint. If they stopped and observed things more carefully, before trying to copy what they decided to draw or paint.

Okay then. How?

  1. Do you remember when you learnt to write your ABC in grade one? How long did it take you to write your name or a sentence?
  2. Do you remember how long it took to write a simple sum at school and add it up?

Really it wasn’t long to learn the basics, was it! But perfecting your writing skills took a little bit longer didn’t it? So it is with art. To become a good artist means spending enough time practicing your new acquired skill.

So what are the basic drawing skills then?

First, recognizing basic shapes around you:

  • Look more closely, see cars and bicycles have round wheels.
  • Houses and buildings are made up of squares, rectangles and triangle shapes.
  • Fir trees and ice-cream cones have cone shapes.
  • Drinking glasses have up-side-down cone shapes, with oval eclipse bases and top-opening.
  • And body-parts of people basically consist of oval, round and triangle/wedge shapes.
Draw with simplicity

See the simple basic shapes in things.

Drawing simple shapes gives you confidence!

The next stage, is to link the ‘dots”

Have you ever filled in those exercises in the children’s section of magazines? Where you need to draw a line (with a pencil) from one number to another, until an object is recognizable? Well, that’s how you draw objects.

Simplifying your drawings:

  1. Your object may look somewhat complex at first, but once you have observed its basic outline and simple shapes within it, it doesn’t look so complex after all.
  2. Start drawing your object, with those simple basic shapes and leave out the detail. When doing this for the first time, try doing only bold objects at first, like balls, apples and fir trees.
  3. Don’t hold your pencil tightly and be finicky, in the effort to perfect or neaten your lines. Lightly draw those shapes softly and loosely. Don’t put pressure on your pencil.
  4. Let your pencil flow ‘lazily’ around and over the basic shapes as you draw around, joining and linking the shapes, until the object’s outline is recognizable.
  5. Don’t worry about defining details yet. Reiterated lines are okay for the time being. The reiterated lines allow you later to select which lines really want, to embody the shape or not. It also gives the object an animated appearance.
  6. At this point, your soft synopsis allows you to judge its possible position in the composition. What’s so great about this way of working lightly; is that the light synopsis sketch can be eased-out or adjusted, before perfecting the shape or its proper position.
  7. The human form is more complex. When it has been broken down to basic shapes, it looks may look somewhat like a robot at first. But once you have linked and rounded off the body parts, it starts to look more realistic.

Drawing results and conclusion:

  • Been more observant is important. Judging what you look at, by shape and tonal, contrast helps to define what is important and what’s unnecessary.
  • The Chinese recognized this principle of painting simple shapes many centuries ago. They also understood the symbolic outlines of their brushstrokes said it all.
  • Like toilet and road icon signs, symbolic shapes are far more quickly recognized by people when they look at your paintings. That’s why modern artists realize that bold shapes have more impact in their paintings.
  • Having started with soft simple outlines, reduces your composing time and also makes it easier to capture quickly moving objects.
  • It also proves that outer outlines are symbolically recognizable. And if outlines are symbolic that means internal details aren’t so important. The internal section only needs a few details added, if really necessary, to create mood or if the object is the main point of interest.
  • So learning to draw like this, with this guileless `ABC’ method; proves you can draw even the simplest of objects, if you really want to.

Last retort on drawing:

Being an artist doesn’t happen by accident! If you practice often enough, you will become a good artist, in spite of what you think at the present moment!

Want colour?

Want to be an artist, do you?!

How badly do you want to be an artist? I hear people say, "I want ...
Read More
Finding new concepts

Want new ideas of what to paint next?

Addressing artists’ creativity blocks: Finding new ideas of what to paint  next, isn't easy. But ...
Read More
painting with watercolor

Think again: Watercolor painting isn’t difficult!

Contrary to what people think… Painting with Watercolors isn’t difficult to paint! Why do people ...
Read More
Draw with simplicity

Drawing: It’s easy to DRAW things!

Here’s a SIMPLE drawing lesson strategy, That will turn you into a profound artist overnight! ...
Read More
How-to make bown

ART: Want to know HOW-TO make GREEN?

I often get the questions how-to: “How do I make Black?” “How do I make ...
Read More
Spiritual light

Master artists intuitively create by LIGHT!

How does artistic intuition work? First of all lets discuss: Perceiving spiritual light is different ...
Read More

Colour: Famous artists’ best kept secret

Selecting Colour Combinations: Want to know the best and easy way to select colours for ...
Read More
Took photo of beach first

Photos & Painting of Dolphin Beach Dunes

Christmas holiday trip: Ada took photos while in Cape Town over Christmas 2016 We spent ...
Read More
Created illusion

Fact or Fallacy: Illusion works faster than reality!

Fact or fallacy: I came across this saying: Illusion can never go faster than the ...
Read More
Gallery acceptance

Art: How to Get Gallery Acceptance

Want to sell your art in galleries? "The gallery is sure to like this painting...." ...
Read More
Azaleas at Cheerio Gardens, Soutpansberb

Wildlife & Flowers of the Soutpansberg

Adventure through the Soutpansberg: The Soutpansberg this and the Soutpansberg that... How many times I ...
Read More
Wild natural reserve

Wild Natural Reserve Painting

Wild open space behind our cottage: Ever wanted to have a wild open space behind ...
Read More
Alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens

Road to Drakensburg Gardens

Location adventures: The road to Drakensburg Gardens was the start of my I love for ...
Read More
Paarl Rock reserve view

Paarl Rock: Painting of Stone Tree!

Plein-air painting of tree in Paarl: This plein-air watercolour painting of an umbrella stone tree ...
Read More
Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

How to paint Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos flowers on a rainy misty day: Want to paint cosmos flowers? With each blog ...
Read More
Make yourself a great artist

15 Things That Make Great Artists

MAKE YOURSELF A GREAT ARTIST There are so many good artists out there that are ...
Read More

ART: Want to know HOW-TO make GREEN?

I often get the questions how-to:

  • How do I make Black?”
  • How do I make brown?”
  • How do I make olive green?”

These how-to questions may seem silly to some. Considering at school we learnt about primary colours, for example: RED apples, BLUE sky, and YELLOW bananas . And then also told how to mix yellow and blue to make green, etc.

How-to make bown

A5 watercolour: Autumn trees displaying different shades of brown, orange and golds.

But new aspiring artists do ask those questions above. It generally happens with their first art class exercise, when they have trouble producing different shades of green. Or when making up colour wheels.

So if students are having trouble making different shades and hues of green, brown or even black, we need to have a greater understand how the primary colours work and how neural and grays are created.

Starting with the best selection of primary pigments, to make those shades and hues.

We often hear the theory, “ You only need the three primary colours to make a simple palette!” That is referring to: a small selection or amount of pigments, which can make a whole range of different colours.

HINT: The best and largest range of colours is made from a cool selection of the primary colours. For example: cool lemon yellow, cool thalo blue and cool Alizarin red.

How-to mix colours

Several primary colour wheels, illustrating how-to make green, brown, black and gray.

So  now let’s move on, and learn how-to answer those questions above:

BLACK: is basically made in theory with the mixture of dark red and blue, and a little yellow. Using less yellow is understandable when you consider nighttime doesn’t have full sunlight.

So that is why some artists include a green pigment instead of yellow.  Because it is a clearer darker colour than an opaque yellow pigment. And because green is made up of yellow and blue.

Of cause the resulting shade of the mixture, will depend on which primary is more dominate. That is, a cool bluish black will have slightly more blue in the mixture. A warm black will have slightly more red in the mixture.

BROWN: is basically the equal mixture of red & blue, and more yellow in the content. This is logical when you see brown sand easier in the daytime! The shade of brown of cause also depends on which primary colour is the most dominate.

  • Warning: Now if you have been fiddling, stirring with your brush, mixing in more and more colours into your painting in the attempt to get your colours just right, you most properly wondering why your painting turned into a murky muddy colour! Because all three primaries were equally involved!

OLIVE GREEN: Is the mixture of orange and green. The shades of green you want depends on which colour dominates the mixture. Please note, yellow is the in-between colour of olive.

Please note:

  • The fact olive green, teal and russet are neutral colours.
  • Russet that is made from orange and violet, is also has a brownish shade! That is, it’s a mixture of the three primary colours: Red being the dominant primary colour. And orange having a touch of yellow. And violet having some blue in it.
  • Teal is a mixture of green and violet. Thus blue been the in-between dominate colour. And to add an interesting fact: putting a touch of violet or magenta in tree foliage complements the green mass and makes it come more alive with colour.

And while we are at it, let’s go deeper and also talk about creating simple grays.

To start with grays are generally made with opposite colours, often referred to as complementary colours. Basically how-to make:

  • Orange mixed with blue makes battleship gray.
  • Yellow and violet makes golden grays.
  • But sadly red and green makes ugly grays.

And here again the shade depends on which of the two colours involved, is more dominate!

But you often hear professional artists make beautiful colourful greys, and wonder how they do it!?

To make such beautiful grays, they use off-centre split complementarys. That means using colours not quite directly opposite. For example how-to mix grays:

  • Violet and yellow-green or sap green.
  • Violet and raw sienna or raw umber.
  • Thalo Winsor green and orange or burnt sienna.

PS: I hope this discussion on mixing colours has been simple to understand, and will help you paint the most exciting beautiful paintings from now on.

Want colour?

Want to be an artist, do you?!

How badly do you want to be an artist? I hear people say, "I want ...
Read More
Finding new concepts

Want new ideas of what to paint next?

Addressing artists’ creativity blocks: Finding new ideas of what to paint  next, isn't easy. But ...
Read More
painting with watercolor

Think again: Watercolor painting isn’t difficult!

Contrary to what people think… Painting with Watercolors isn’t difficult to paint! Why do people ...
Read More
Draw with simplicity

Drawing: It’s easy to DRAW things!

Here’s a SIMPLE drawing lesson strategy, That will turn you into a profound artist overnight! ...
Read More
How-to make bown

ART: Want to know HOW-TO make GREEN?

I often get the questions how-to: “How do I make Black?” “How do I make ...
Read More
Spiritual light

Master artists intuitively create by LIGHT!

How does artistic intuition work? First of all lets discuss: Perceiving spiritual light is different ...
Read More

Colour: Famous artists’ best kept secret

Selecting Colour Combinations: Want to know the best and easy way to select colours for ...
Read More
Took photo of beach first

Photos & Painting of Dolphin Beach Dunes

Christmas holiday trip: Ada took photos while in Cape Town over Christmas 2016 We spent ...
Read More
Created illusion

Fact or Fallacy: Illusion works faster than reality!

Fact or fallacy: I came across this saying: Illusion can never go faster than the ...
Read More
Gallery acceptance

Art: How to Get Gallery Acceptance

Want to sell your art in galleries? "The gallery is sure to like this painting...." ...
Read More
Azaleas at Cheerio Gardens, Soutpansberb

Wildlife & Flowers of the Soutpansberg

Adventure through the Soutpansberg: The Soutpansberg this and the Soutpansberg that... How many times I ...
Read More
Wild natural reserve

Wild Natural Reserve Painting

Wild open space behind our cottage: Ever wanted to have a wild open space behind ...
Read More
Alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens

Road to Drakensburg Gardens

Location adventures: The road to Drakensburg Gardens was the start of my I love for ...
Read More
Paarl Rock reserve view

Paarl Rock: Painting of Stone Tree!

Plein-air painting of tree in Paarl: This plein-air watercolour painting of an umbrella stone tree ...
Read More
Cosmos flowers in Delta Park

How to paint Cosmos Flowers

Cosmos flowers on a rainy misty day: Want to paint cosmos flowers? With each blog ...
Read More
Make yourself a great artist

15 Things That Make Great Artists

MAKE YOURSELF A GREAT ARTIST There are so many good artists out there that are ...
Read More