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Getting Started With Watercolours

Updated: Jul 3, 2020

Watercolours have been used for thousands of years to express colour and form for a multitude of topics. Once you discover watercolours yourself you will begin to see why!

Watercolours are by far my favourite medium. Once mastered using the tips and tricks I’m about to share with you, there are so many things you can achieve with them. This is typically the first painting technique taught to beginners. You may have used them in primary school, or even nursery!

Watercolours are blocks of powdered pigment (natural or chemical colouring) which dissolve once you add water. Due to the ease of mixing, they have a wide range of tone and strength of colour available. When you think of watercolours, it may conjure up an image of a neatly painted seascape or a slightly more abstract landscape that gently fades into the paper round the edges. However, there is so much more to this style and it has such a range of effects that can be produced! In this post, I will attempt to show you even a small range of what is possible, with some tips and tricks that you and your little artists can try at home to take your watercolour painting to the next level!

Tools for Watercolours

When you're starting your own painting the important things to begin with are: a nice range of different sizes and shapes of brush; a pot of water; thick watercolor paper (anything over 300gsm is great); a watercolour palette, and the watercolour palette’s lid for mixing. It’s very important that you have the lid separate for mixing, as you want to keep your blocks of colour as clean as possible. You cannot mix your colours on the page as it will get very messy, very quickly!

Getting Started

To start, take some water with your brush and make a little pool in the mixing lid, going back and forth from the water several times. This is important to do every time you mix a new colour as you need the water to activate the colour and turn it into a nice fluid paint you can work with. Then it’s just remembering to wash your brush before putting it into a new colour, so they stay nice and clean. From there, using watercolours is a practise of adding water and adding pigment in different amounts until you get the colour you're looking for. It may even be worth having a scrap bit of paper or a small bit of watercolour paper so you can test the colours before they go onto the page.

Testing Out Brushes

Once you have mastered the paint and how to tackle the use of water, you can have a look at your brushes. As mentioned above, a thinner brush is more desirable for detail whereas a thicker brush is better for covering large areas quickly. Practising with different brushes on a scrap piece of paper will help when it comes to painting the picture. Test out the different amounts of pressure you can use with each brush; see how thick the strokes become when you press harder, and how thin they become as you pull the brush away from the paper. Once you’ve had a practise and feel comfortable, you’re ready to go!

Once you’ve got to grips with the above, we highly recommend you check out our blog with 5 Top Tips to Improve Your Watercolour Techniques.

We’d love to see your watercolour works, share them with us on Instagram @cygnetsartschool #cygnetsartschool or add to our Facebook page’s wall here.If you have any questions about any art mediums, drop us a line on

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