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10 Watercolor Painting Techniques for New Artists

There are several watercolor painting techniques that every new artist should practice to make their paintings the best they can be.

New artists should try these watercolor painting techniques on scrap watercolor paper before you apply them to your own watercolor paintings. Testing them out will help you decide how to incorporate them in landscapes, still life and portraits.

Wet and Dry Brush Painting Techniques

To create a wide range of textures you need to know how to manipulate the paint. The wetness or dryness of the paint on the brush or paper affects the texture. Here is how to create different textures using paint wetness.

  1. To create a dry brush effect dip your brush in paint and then wipe almost all of the paint onto a rag or paper towel. Then drag the brush across the paper. This technique is often used for creating wood grain or grass.
  2. Wet on wet painting is exactly like it sounds. You use a brush that is loaded with paint on paper that is wet with paint or plain water. This creates very fluid strokes and easy blending.
  3. A graded wash is a watercolor wash that gradually gets lighter. To start the process, dip a wide brush into your paint. Run it across your paper. Dip your brush into your water and then paint a stripe right next to the last. Dip your brush into your water and make another stripe. Adding more water to the brush dilutes the color, making it lighter.
  4. Lifting wet paint only from certain areas can create interesting texture. To lift paint, wrap a cotton rag around your finger or the tip of a pencil and press it against the area that you want to extract paint from. Slowly pull the cloth away to avoid smudges.

Household Items For Interesting Watercolor Textures

  1. You can use household items to create interesting textures in your watercolor paintings.
  2. Add salt to a wet wash to create a mottled look.
  3. Dab paint onto an old toothbrush or paintbrush and run your thumb across the bristles to spray flecks of paint onto the painting. This can create texture for rocks or sand in landscape paintings.
  4. Dip a wadded up piece of cellophane or plastic wrap into paint, dab it a couple times on a paper towel and then press it to your watercolor paper.
  5. Spray your painting with water to create a running effect.
  6. Dab a watercolor wash with isopropyl alcohol to create a bloom in the paint.
  7. Dunk a pencil eraser into paint and then onto your paper to create perfect dots.

With practice, new artists will know when they need each of these watercolor painting techniques to create the look they want.

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