The wet-on-wet method

The wet-on-wet method

Adding wet paint to a wet surface is used for painting landscapes, simple skies, or soft watercolour washes. It gives a flowy look as we don't have much control over how our paint reacts.

  1. Wet your brush with plain water and "paint" two rectangles with the clear water.
  2. Pick up moistened paint from your palette and add colour to your first wet rectangle.
  3. Add dabs of paint to your second rectangle.

When your paint has begun to dry, see how different it looks.

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Building up colour

This activity will enable you to build up colour from plain water to a saturated paint mix.

  1. Start with a dry area of watercolour paper. Put a small amount of water into your palette and a dab of concentrated paint next to it.
  2. Pick up a bit of the clean water with your brush and paint a strip.
  3. Add a tiny bit of pigment into your water, and paint where you left off with the clear water. Rinse and pat your brush on a piece of cloth or paper.
  4. Repeat the process by adding a bit more paint to your water until you have a good transition from water to concentrated paint.

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Getting precise

This practice will help to paint around the edges of shapes.

  1. Paint simple shapes on your dry piece of watercolour paper.
  2. Paint around these shapes in a different colour. Use different sized brushes - a smaller for more detailed areas and a larger for filling out larger areas.
  3. Ensure you have enough blue paint (about 50/50 water to watercolor). Keep the blue area moist to pick up where you left off.
  4. Get really close to each shape without touching the first shape.

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Creating gradients

In this activity, we will build up colour, working with two colours and transitioning from one to the other.

  1. Use colours close together on the colour wheel to create harmony, such as green and yellow, blue and purple, red and orange.
  2. Mix two separate colours side by side. Aim for a 50/50 ratio of water to paint for each colour.
  3. Paint a strip of the one colour. Clean your brush, pick up a bit of the second colour and mix it into your first mixture.
  4. Pick up where you left off, each time adding a bit more of your second colour.

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The wet-on-dry method

Wet paint over a dry area is used for more precise and defined shapes.

  1. Start with dry paper and pick up some moistened paint with a large brush, then simply paint.
  2. The opacity or lack of transparency will depend on how much water you mix in.
  3. Using the minimum amount of water will leave a sketch-like finish.

When the paint is completely dry, notice how the colours tend to fade and look different.

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Watercolour can be daunting for beginners and some experienced artists alike.

However, with some easy warm-up activities, you'll begin to understand how watercolour really works and become comfortable with your paints.

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