Recommendations for getting started in Watercolor

I’m not a professional watercolorist but I have been sharing my journey online and I’ve gotten this question from friends asking if I had any recommendations or tips in how to get started! How exciting is that folks!?!?

In summary here is my quick answer

You won’t need a whole lot of tools when you start out with watercolor because each part (the pigment of paint and how much paint/water ratio you use, the type of paper you use, how much water you use, how you use your brushes) all play a part in making your piece of art. Each takes time to learn how it works. (I like to learn as I paint.) So if you have too many options and use all of your options all at once to create a piece of art, you won’t know what caused your work to look like it does. That can be a frustrating thing. So, because of that, looking back (and after learning the long way) I do recommend limiting how much paint and brushes you buy in the beginning along with limiting to one pad of quality watercolor paper. Try those things for a while and see how it works out as you work through the basics in the multitude of free items available to you online or in your local library. I have a playlist below.

Allow me to explain

Here is my input as a person who doesn’t have a ton of money and have bought a lot of materials that I really didn’t need. This is what I wish I knew beforehand when getting started. Of course the advice “buy the best you can afford” and “build up your tools slowly over time” is great advice. So, basically that for me translates into- do NOT get that cool 24 pack of paints that is on sale and looks like it’s legit. I mean, you CAN, but… why not buy 3 paints- the primary colors- one blue, one red, one yellow from a reputable brand and of ARTIST quality paint? Yes, yes I know there are “cool” and “warm” versions of each color (say whaaaaaa?!?!?)!! Hold that thought but for now, why not just get started with artist quality watercolor paint in 3 colors (primary colors), a pack of good quality watercolor paper and 1 watercolor brush. For now. This doesn’t have to be forever!!! Just until you learn the different qualities of these materials and how they work with each other and how you like watercolor. (Don’t worry, you can use these three colors to make many MORE colors!!! AND when you do that your portraits will be “in harmony” with own another!! 😍 P.S. It’s okay of you have no idea what I’m talking about right now. Read on!)

Go through these videos or others like it (search for : beginner watercolor tutorials) and do those. Check out books for FREE at your local library on watercolor. If you have a video streaming service like Amazon Prime- they have FREE for you videos on there too!! There is no reason to spend a lot of money on this in the beginning on some things. And for encouragement, why not share what you’re doing in a group for feedback, inspiration and ideas? (Note on artwork comparison: I like to remember that we ALL have to start somewhere! Some people are naturally talented and others have to work at their art. Even those with natural artistic abilities have skills that they’d like to improve so we ALL will need to work on putting in those “brush miles.” I first heard about this term from Diane, the founder of the watercolor group I mention below!

Watercolor playlist – I hope it’s helpful for you! https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIfecSHFadHL1h4YWqcAIH9i5F2e1ThHz

I like the FB group “watercolor beginners and beyond.” There are persons all around the world, of all ages and of all abilities in this group. There are moderators who help to keep the group positive and weekly challenges with randomly chosen winners WITH prizes!

If you know of other tutorials that fit this playlist, please add it and share. The idea for me in choosing what to put on this playlist was that it is free. Informative. And for the super beginner. I also tried to add at least one from each artist that I’ve found helpful so if you like their personality and style, check out their channel. They each all have GREAT content that you might find useful!

Perhaps make your own watercolor playlist and as you share your work be sure to tag the artist or better yet link the tutorial so that others can try it out too. You never know WHO you might inspire!

This painting of my palette was a prompt from a watercolor book!

TOP POINTS – (Everybody has their own thoughts and preferences. Enjoy figuring out what works for you!)

  • buy 3 tubes of ARTIST grade watercolor paint with a reputable brand of a red, yellow, and blue.
  • buy 1 pad of watercolor paper. (You can try another brand of paper next time!) Such as “Canson XL Cold Press 140lb (300g) Watercolor paper” (it is blue)
  • buy 1 watercolor brush. Such as “Silver Brush-black velvet- round size 6”
  • use white porcelain plates as a mixing palette (perhaps you can get some used at a thrift store)
  • use clean, empty jars to clean your brush or to add water to dilute the paint
  • roll of paper towels
  • DATE your work! SIGN your name! Later you will look back and see how much you have progressed.
  • Scan your art, if you can. You can use your artwork later for other things. Isn’t everything digital nowadays? Try using (free) Canva.com to add text to your art!
  • Use free photos like Pixabay if you need a photo reference. Tag them so others will know about this great resource!
  • Give credit where credit is due. For example, if you used a tutorial, share the tutorial or the name of the artist if/when you post.
I may need to rerecord this video- I think it is too choppy to be usable! (SO SAD!!!!)

My second post EVER on Instagram was of WATERCOLOR (May 2018)! (Right after my first post of me – looking good hahaha!!)

Now more recently, I shared my favorite watercolor of 2020:

But there were many moments in between… here are a few examples. Whatever you end up doing, I hope it brings you an opportunity to jump into something new, something interesting, and something just for you. You can create whatever you like. Enjoy!!!

#watercolorbeginnersandbeyond #beginnerwatercolor #recommendations #art #exploringwatercolor #watercolorjourney #sejanashines

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