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7 Helpful Beginner Watercolor Secrets No one tells You when You Start Painting

If you are reading this I assume you either want to learn watercolor painting or are very new to the medium! So do continue to read!

When I was new to Watercolors and I used to hop around for ideas, inspiration and guidance, but I was either overwhelmed or confused. Not that there is no good stuff out there but I felt all the information was more like for higher level, when people stated with wet on wet instead of watercolor it felt like jargon what is so common once you dive into the world of Watercolors.

I was so afraid that I was doing it all wrong, I did not have the tools, I did not have the techniques and I was so scared to waste my materials when I started!

Understand your Colors First
Understand your Colors First

So after exploring all watercolor materials, hundreds of painting I can say that I know this medium well enough to share my learnings with someone who might be stuck like me. Whatever I am sharing here are mostly things I wish I knew when I started, things I learned the hard way!

Creativity is allowing yourself

to make mistakes.

Art is knowing which ones to keep.

-Scott Adams

1. The Right Mindset

It all begins with a mindset, this may seem weird but write down why you want to learn watercolor. What motivates you, are you learning just for fun or you want to make it into a serious profession. If you constantly worry about making mistakes then it will be really difficult for you to get over the fear of learning a new skill. So keep an open mind and begin this wonderful journey with the intention of learning!

“Creativity takes courage.”

— Henri Matisse

2. The Right Materials not the most Expensive ones matter

Watercolor materials what to buy and how to buy
Watercolor materials what to buy and how to buy

I am one of those artists who do not stress too much on the ‘expensive’ materials. When I began I had the most basic student watercolor set, average brushes and very basic paper. Due to the lack of right techniques I was not getting it right and failing again and again. And I blamed it all on the materials.

Overtime I learned that materials are important, we will talk about each in while but first let me tell you that, yes materials matter but as a beginner you simply want to get the “right’ ones “the most expensive” ones.

Just as an example these are painted with 50 Rupees (a few cents) watercolor set, perhaps the cheapest one available out there! With a basic brush on 25% cotton paper!

Budget Watercolors can also do wonders if you use the right techniques
Budget Watercolors can also do wonders if you use the right techniques


Paint is the first and most important material, when it comes to paint you have a few choices,

  1. Buy student version of a good quality brand, experiment first
  2. Buy only Primaries of a high end brand, stay in budget
  3. Buy Professional set from a medium range local brand
  4. As a last option get a basic set from a super market just to get a feel of the medium, then move to one of the above options.


You can’t ignore the paper! This is something that I had no clue about and I was painting on thick sheets. Watercolor requires a very specific paper and you must get a cotton paper, for starting you can easily go for lower priced 25% to 30% cotton paper instead of 100%. This is good enough for beginner level.


As you see I wrote brush not brushes and that is all you need to start! And here is the star of them all, No.8 Round Brush!

No. 8 Round Brush
No. 8 Round Brush

This is all you need to paint almost anything when you start. I have a collection of brushes from all sorts of fancy brands to types but I always end up using my No.8 for almost everything unless I am making a brush specific tutorial. This brush works fine with all medium sized painting, for washes as well as for details as long as you brush has a good point.

You can directly go for a good brand considering it as a long term investment, or otherwise go for a medium one and get from 2 or 3 different brands to test.

You can also download this FREE guide if you want more details on supplies!

3. Know Your Colors

You will not get anywhere unless you know your colors. The very first thing you should do when you get new colors or color is to make a swatch. Palette chart is a very important step of watercolor painting. It will not only help you understand the exact shades of your color set but it will be the first step to understand how watercolors work. As a general rule all watercolors become light as they dry. Also we seldom use white with watercolor and instead lighten by adding more water or leave white spaces.  Swatching in proper way will help you understand this. If you skip this first step it will cause frustration later on when you will not get the desired results.

You can also grab this FREE guide to get a basic idea of the Color Theory!

Palette Chart
Palette Chart

4. Start Simple

Always start simple, this will not only be easy to do but will also make you confident as you finish your first project successfully. I would say don’t even paint just play with colors! See how they blend and mix, flow and bleed.

5. Take a Class

If you are serious about it, take a class! I am not talking about free videos available out there it will confuse you and can even overwhelm you. Find a class that is for absolute beginners as that would not only give you a fresh insight but also start you on the right track.

You can try my beginner friendly classes here!

Learn Watercolors
Learn Watercolors

6. Practice is the only Key

I have said it before and would repeat it here again, unless you practice you will get no where. Do get the idea of practice right, it does not mean you do 10 failed painting and then give up. It is about discipline and consistency. Paint for at least an hour everyday as starters, you must do this without any excuse. Gradually increase the time, always remember to compare yourself with yourself only. See how far you have come and acknowledge the small wins like how you are good with wet on wet technique now as compared to a month ago.

7. Always remember there is fine line between Inspiration & Copying

It is much better to understand this when you are at a beginner level. I myself paint paintings that others have done, but only to see how I do it, sometimes it does come up nearly same and mostly entirely different! But what ever the case those are only for my eyes and remain in my practice sketchbook. Remember NEVER share someone else’s copied work anywhere on social platforms or online. It may be good practice to improve your own skills and practice but it is NEVER ethical to share some else’s work as your own.

“Admiring doesn’t make you exactly

like what you admire, admire yourself

and you will be original

and exactly how you wish and feel to be.”

― Auliq Ice

If you want to imitate other Artists do so only to challenge yourself in a healthy way.

Remember when you copy others you copy their mistakes too! While when you do your own thing, you will always be careful!

This is something which is very important not just as an Artist but as a person as well. Social media is full of this practice of copying in the name of inspiration, don’t be a part of that crowd.

Ending it with this quote I love,

A true artist

is not one who is inspired

but one who inspires others.

-Salvador Dalí

Until next time,

7 Helpful Beginner Watercolor Secrets No one tells You when You Start Painting