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DIY watercolor tips for beginners. Become a self taught artist painter. Landscapes.

Updated on February 8, 2018

Vibrant watercolor


The medium of Watercolor.

Watercolor is one of the most difficult mediums to use in painting because it involves putting large amounts of wet paint onto paper and the paint moves in the water. Getting your painting right the first time is important as it's really hard to correct without losing freshness. We will concentrate on landscapes for this article to help you become a self taught artist.

Like most things, the secret is in the preparation and particularly in the design. With watercolor you can lift paint off your paper but, once you have started, you can't change your design successfully. There are lots of checklists available on selecting your brushes, choosing colors etc but here are some things you might not have thought about.

A checklist to help your painting be a success.

1. Have one small straight line somewhere in the distance. If you have overlooked this don't forget to create one as this gives your painting stability.

2. Eliminate symmetrical shapes such as squares, triangles and circles. If they appear in your painting, change them to be much more irregular as nature rarely gives us perfect shapes.

3. Avoid worm shapes (parallel lines that are similar and end up looking like a worm). Even though they may not be exactly parallel, from as distance they will look like it. Change one or both lines to create variety.

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4.Watch for shapes that line up or are clones of each other, e.g. trees, hill tops etc., and change them. Change the shape, change the color, change the way they overlap.

5.No 'kissing' in the painting. This is where shapes touch. Overlap them instead. Overlapping gives a sense of distance - something in front and something further behind.

6. Angle shapes into the painting otherwise the eye will follow the shapes right out of the frame.

7. Check that you have 3 planes - foreground, middle ground and background. Keep most of your information in the middle ground and leave the foreground uncluttered. This encourages the eye of the viewer to travel into the painting rather than get stuck at the front.

8. If you crop a shape such as a tree or building, don't crop it down the middle. Crop 1/3 or 2/3.

9. Each painting should be about one main thing only (the 'center of interest'). Don't overdo your painting with trying to squeeze in too many things all vying for attention. This creates a cluttered mess for the viewer to try and figure out. Here is a simple but helpful technique to help you sort this out. When you have decided what that 'thing' is, describe it in 3 words. If you need more than 3 words, you are planning to put too much into your painting. Emphasize the center of interest and play down the rest.

10.Check for repeated concave or convex shapes and change them to more of an uneven mix as seen below. This helps your painting to look more realistic.

© 2013 Frangipanni


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    • Frangipanni profile image

      Frangipanni 5 years ago

      Thanks so much, glad it could help.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 5 years ago from USA

      Your tips are so helpful for beginning watercolorists, as well as a good reminder for those with more experience or those who wish to teach watercolor painting. Great job on writing and illustrating your points! Voted up and useful!

    • Frangipanni profile image

      Frangipanni 5 years ago

      Thanks blossom!

    • BlossomSB profile image

      Bronwen Scott-Branagan 5 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      A very interesting and useful hub. I love your examples, too.

    • Frangipanni profile image

      Frangipanni 5 years ago

      Thank you for your kind words RTalloni

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      A super look at some watercolor tips that would be easy to miss. Good basic stuff to think about!