We Love Watercolor! (A how-to guide for beginners)

We’ve been seeing this watercolor trend for a while now. It’s making a bold statement in the fashion world, as well as home décor, packaging, party décor and art. This trend lends itself perfectly to so many areas, and its versatility is part of the reason why I love it.  Not only can it have a soft, romantic feel, but it can also be bright and bold. The color combinations just make me feel happy, and it’s so pretty to look at!

We Love Watercolor! (A how-to guide for beginners) | Cardstore Blog

I’ve been dabbling a bit in this trend and have really been enjoying it. It’s awesome to watch your painting come together, and it’s a fun activity at any age. Check out our awesome Grandparents day craft here! This is all you need: paper, brushes, watercolor paint, a palette to mix your paint on, and water!

We Love Watercolor! (A how-to guide for beginners) | Cardstore Blog

I like to paint on my kitchen table, as opposed to my easel. That way, the colors don’t run

For paint choices, I recommend Reeves products because they’re a pretty good quality for a reasonable price. I actually prefer to use a paint called gouache. It works a lot like watercolor but produces a more vibrant, dense color – which is why I like it. If you’re just trying this out, and don’t want to make too much of an investment, any kids watercolor kit (the kind you can find at a drug store) will work just fine to start! I’ve experimented with watercolor pencils as well, but found that they didn’t give me the vibrancy I was looking for.

For paper, I use watercolor paper, as well as bristol paper. The watercolor paper has more texture to it, and allows you to use more water. Bristol paper is smoother, but will warp if you use too much water. Try using regular printer paper to practice on until you’re ready for the heavier paper.

A watercolor how-to guide for beginners - what to buy to get started | Cardstore Blog

Reeves Paints & Strathmore Paper

You can use a variety of brushes for watercolor painting. I suggest practicing with a bunch until you find which ones you like best. I like the types of brushes pictured below – because they hold a good amount of the water/watercolor mixture.

We Love Watercolor! (A how-to guide for beginners) | Cardstore Blog

Michaels Brushes – Artist’s Loft series.

Each brush will give you different paint strokes and varying levels of control. A pointed tip brush will give you more control for details, a flat tip brush lets you make varying widths (while distributing your paint more evenly), and a larger brush paints over more space in a shorter time.

I like to have a rag nearby that I can wipe my brushes with in between colors. This way, I’m not using more water than desired.

It’s also important to wash your brush any time you want to change a color, or the colors can turn an ugly shade of brown. Try to always use clean water, or the colors won’t come out as vibrant. If the water is getting murky, it’s probably time to dump it and get fresh water. After my space is set up, I fill up a couple of water jars so I don’t have to keep getting up.

We Love Watercolor! (A how-to guide for beginners) | Cardstore Blog

Very inexpensive palette from Michaels / Difference between using a lot of water and a little water

Now that you’ve got all your supplies, you’re ready to paint! I like to put out 5-6 colors at a time on my palette. (I like smaller disposable palettes like these). Leave the middle area “paint-free” until you’re ready to mix colors. The more water you add to your colors, the more “washed out” the colors will become, so I start off with just a little water until I reach the desired density.

Keep in mind that the more you layer your colors, the more likely the paper will warp. So, if you want to go heavy with layering (paint on top of more paint), I would choose a thicker paper (like watercolor paper), and I’d use more paint than water.

Hope these tips help get you started. The best way to learn is to experiment, so be brave, have fun and just go for it!

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