Watercolour for beginners
Watercolour Landscapes for Beginners
Dave Pilgram and Liz Marsden-King - Posted on 02 Dec 2010
Watercolour is the most rewarding of media – and, although it can be difficult at times, it’s worth persevering with it. It’s essential to understand the basic principles, why mistakes happen, and how to avoid or correct them. We start at the absolute beginning this month, explaining essential materials and basic washes. Over the year you will build up your skills gradually and gain in confidence.
Your workspaceYou will need a suitable working area that has plenty of light. The photograph (above) shows you the basic materials you’ll need and how to lay them out. We use a kitchen table with a daylight lamp. If you are right-handed, lay all your materials on the right of the paper – and on the left if you are left-handed.
MATERIALSWe have designed this course so you won’t need to spend a lot of money on materials. Here is what you’ll need for a basic beginners’ set.
- 4B pencil
- Putty rubber
- Kitchen paper Jam jar of water for cleaning brushes
- Small container/clean yoghurt pot of clean water for painting
- Small wooden block or glasses’ case.
Bockingford NOT paper, 140lb on a block (already stretched) or watercolour pad (not stretched).
Choose brushes that are pure sable or a sable/nylon mix. Sable brushes hold the paint better and are easier to work with. Pick the following:
Before using new brushes place them into hot (but not boiling) water to remove the protective film. When the hairs of a used brush have become bent, dip them in hot water to straighten them.
EXERCISE 1First steps
For this month’s exercises, you will need the following colours:
Step 1 - Making up colour
Using the 1⁄2in. Square brush, put four brushfuls of water into a well. Squeeze a pea-size blob of alizarin crimson into a neighbouring well.
Step 2 - How to lay a simple wash
Load the No. 8 Round brush with paint and glide it gently across the paper.
Take the brush across again, touching into the pool of paint. Load your brush again and continue.
When you finish the area you are painting, gently squeeze your brush out over the water dish.
You may need to do this a couple of times.
In this way, the wet area won’t run into the drying wash above and cause an unsightly watermark.
- Always use clean water for mixing and change it frequently.
- Always keep a pool of paint along the base of the wash, but don’t let it become too large or the paint will run down the paper
- Never dry your brush on a tissue, as this will remove all the paint from the brush and you’ll end up with a dry, white finish at the base of the wash.
- Don’t be tempted to dab at the puddle with a tissue, as you will make an unsightly patch.
THE SECRETS OF A SUCCESSFUL WASHNever go back into where you have painted, even to remove a hair or fleck. The paint will be drying and you will cause unsightly marks. Once the wash is dry, blow the hair or fleck off. It doesn’t matter if it leaves a tiny mark, as this is all part of watercolour.
Always keep the brush well loaded with paint and gently brush sideways (not using a jagged movement up and down).
Don’t let the brush become dry and don’t press too hard. This is the cause of unsightly streaks. (More about watermarks and how to avoid them next month.)