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6 Horrible Watercolor mistakes to avoid that will help you Paint Beautifully

We talk about ‘what to do’ all the time, let’s talk about ‘what not to do’, let’s discuss 6 common Watercolor mistakes to avoid in today’s post.

6 horrible Watercolor mistakes to avoid that will help you paint Beautifully
6 horrible Watercolor mistakes to avoid that will help you Paint Beautifully

If you are a new watercolor artist or wanna be one then read on! When I began my journey I had no idea about these things and I am totally guilty of committing some of these mistakes, but you don’t have to learn the hard way!

I am sharing all my experience so that you can avoid these early on only.

Here are the 5 Watercolor mistakes to avoid-

1. Copying others

The number one Watercolor mistake to avoid, as you begin your journey your first instinct might be to go ahead and start copying your favorite Artist, as we assume they know it all and it is okay to do this. Now this can be a good thing as far as learning is concerned but you must be aware of the following:-

  1. If you blindly copy just because you liked it, don’t share your painting out there on social media unless it is clearly mentioned by the original artist that it is okay to do so, or only if they are teaching it with a tutorial. Even in the latter case always give the due credit. Some Artists can be really angry if you personally send them the copied work without prior permission, even if you thank them, so please be careful with this.
  2. When you copy someone you are so lost in the process that you tend to copy their mistakes! This can really be harmful in the long run. Don’t assume that they are the best and they know everything! Instead learn the basics, learn the techniques and focus on these two. Come up with your own creative style based on these.
  3. If you really want hand holding then take classes, where the teacher has specific goals, teaches you proper step by step process and also gives you feedback on the project. You are allowed to share this on social cannels and you can ask questions and engage with the teacher in more productive way.

2. Settling with Cheap Supplies

The second biggest watercolor mistake to avoid is settling with student grade or low quality supplies. It is okay to start with basic budget supplies when you are just trying to explore the medium and don’t want to invest a lot. But as you start getting a hang of it and wanna do more of it go for the proper supplies. Here is a guide to help you,

Beginners Guide to Buying Watercolor Supplies
Beginners Guide to Buying Watercolor Supplies

Do note that is really important to have the right tools not necessarily the most expensive ones. Whether you do any Art this makes a difference. The professional good quality colors will definitely remove the frustration if you have a good hold on the techniques, for learning techniques you don’t need any fancy stuff, check this video to get a better idea.

Cheap vs Expensive Watercolors

Low quality paints are mostly chalky and non transparent that ruins the beauty of it.

3. Not Changing the water

I was so guilty of this! Like once you sit down with your supplies and then think it is okay, I am using dark colors so its fine, I am not gonna sell this painting, let me finish just this then I will, Too many excuses right!

And then whining when the painting does not turn out bright and pretty!

Guys, always have 2-3 jars of water, I love to have a third one especially for the art work I intend to sell, that ways one is for washing the brush i.e. the dirtiest, the second for wetting paints, the third i.e. the cleanest for water washes.

One jar is anyways a no no, use two if three looks too much, one for washing the brush, and other for activating paint and washes, make sure you keep changing them as soon as they look slightly dirty. Avoid this Watercolor mistake at all costs.

4. Using any reference you just find on the Net

If it is out there on the internet or out there on Pinterest that does not mean that you can just go ahead and pick it to paint! These images have copyright policies, so either read them carefully or refrain from using such images if you want to stay out of trouble. I know this is very common but it is not a very healthy practice unless you know the source of image and know its usage rights. I personally never use them.

Watercolor mistakes to avoid - Using Photo Reference Blindly from Internet
Watercolor mistakes to avoid – Using Photo Reference Blindly from Internet

How to find inspiration then, you might ask? How to get nice photos, I am not a photographer?

Well you don’t have to be a professional photographer, capture what ever you feel nice with an artists’ eye, there is beauty everywhere, only if you look. Just step out and look for lovely corners, develop an eye for beauty! You will be surprised how much inspiration you can find just by taking a walk around your block.

If looking for online pictures, don’t just take one and copy it as is, go through a lot, select a few and from those come up with your own composition. For example if painting landscape, combine elements, as in lift a flower bed from one, see various tree shapes and create your own, do alterations, like changing shape of a rectangular door to arched one, these are just hints that you can try to avoid becoming a copycat.

5. Becoming Impatient

Another Watercolor mistake to avoid is becoming impatient with it. Watercolors need a lot of Patience! If you lack this virtue then try to develop it as soon a you can if you want to avoid the frustration! You can use a hair dryer but that has its own limitations! I prefer my paintings to dry on their own, and that needs a lot of patience!

I loose it too sometimes, and it is okay, but do you really want to do that at the cost of your paintings?

No right! So better stray calm and patient!

6. Ignoring the Color Theory

As a beginner we tend to jump on and start painting, but learning the basics is really important! It may sound boring but it is not! It is actually so much fun to play with colors, you get to learn so much and you get to understand your colors better. This will help you with choosing a beautiful color palette, help you learn to mix your own colors instead of buying every available shade tube out there. You will learn to avoid muddy colors, as you know which colors work well together, which you can mix, which you should not mix etc.

In fact as soon as you get your first set the first thing you should do is to swatch them and make a palette chart which many just ignore. this is a very crucial step and it’s fun to do too! Try this FREE guide to get an intro about the color theory!

Watercolor mistakes to avoid - Ignoring the Basics of Color Theory
Watercolor mistakes to avoid – Ignoring the Basics of Color Theory

7. Bonus: Loosing the transparency

Along with all of the watercolor mistakes to avoid listed above, here is another one that I often see, painting dark deep silhouettes, excessive use of pastels and metallic colors which by the way are not really even transparent, these are a few examples. Not saying that these can’t be used, they can be but these lack the very nature of transparency that differentiates Watercolor from all other mediums. If the beautiful luminosity and glow of watercolors is lost, they don’t really look like watercolor paintings anymore! Overuse of pigments makes it look dull and heavy which is fine with oils or acrylics but not with watercolors.

Watercolor mistakes to avoid - Loosing Transparency
Watercolor mistakes to avoid – Loosing Transparency

Watercolors are unique and they have a way of their own! Labeling them as ‘unpredictable’ and ‘too hard’ is not really right. They are simply beautiful and can take you on a journey where you will find joy even in your mistakes, it’s a pleasurable joy full of wonderful experiences!

So try to be careful about the common watercolor mistakes to avoid and see and experience watercolors with a new mindset!

All the best!’

Till next time,

6 horrible Watercolor mistakes to avoid that will help you paint Beautifully
6 horrible Watercolor mistakes to avoid that will help you Paint Beautifully