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Watercolour paints
Watercolour paints

Watercolour painting exercises for beginners - Introduction to Watercolour Painting Part 2


Robin Capon - Posted on 13 Jun 2012

The following exercises will get you started in watercolour painting


You will find that each of your colours (red, yellow, blue) has a relative strength (tone and intensity) depending on how much water is added to the mix. Start with a relatively strong colour (left), by mixing some colour with just a little water. Then, gradually add more water to create successively lighter tones (middle), and then less water again to make successively darker tones (right).


The essence of watercolour painting is that you start with the lightest tones and, where appropriate, work over these with further washes of colour to build up the darker tones.

Top - First, mix a generous amount of weak colour (a colour wash). Lightly draw a simple box shape and paint it all over with a single weak wash of colour.
Middle - Next, when the first wash has dried, apply a second layer over two sides of the box.
Bottom - Finally, apply a third layer over the end of the box. Now you can see how successive layers of wash, applied in this way, will give different effects of light and dark, and so create the impression of three-dimensional form.


Make a colour wheel to help you understand colour relationships and what happens when you mix different colours together. Make your colour wheel about 6in. (15cm) in diameter and divide it into 12 equal segments.

1 Begin with the three primary colours (red, yellow and blue), which should be positioned at intervals of onethird around the wheel.
2 Place the three secondary colours – each of which is half way between two of the primaries and an equal mixture of those two.
3 The remaining squares should be filled with colours that are a mixture of the adjacent primary and secondary colours – for example, yellow and green (giving a yellow/green colour), and yellow and orange (yellow/orange).


A good introduction to watercolour painting is to start with some line and wash sketches, like the one shown above. Make a pencil drawing, to give you the basic shapes and tones, and then add some watercolour washes


Now try a simple landscape painting like this. You could copy this example or find a similar one in a book or photograph. Mix the blue and yellow together to give you different greens. For brown, start with orange (yellow + a little red) and then add a touch of blue.

Part three in this series tells you how to choose the right watercolour paper.

Read part three from June 20th 2012!

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