Watercolors are not my preferred medium but I do use them from time to time. I absolutely love the way water and colors interact on the paper in an untamed manner.
With water colours, you can produce stunningly elegant paintings. But they are generally considered to be the most difficult medium to learn, as you are not able to easily correct errors and due to the uncontrolled nature of water.
Be careful, but not tight
If you make a mistake in watercolor painting, it is often not an easy fix. A mistake made is a mistake stayed unfortunately.
So of course, you need to be careful with watercolor painting, arguably more so than with acrylics and oils. However, that does not mean you should be painting very tight. You still want to utilize that loose and free-flowing brushwork which watercolor paintings are known for.
Many of the great watercolor paintings seem to be a hybrid of loose and delicate brushwork, which compliment each other nicely.
You need to be willing to accept that mistakes will happen in watercolor painting. Otherwise you will paint far too reluctantly. This will not come easily when you start out with watercolors. You will either paint loose but with many mistakes, or tight with… probably still many mistakes.
Learn how the colors interact
One of the most challenging aspects of watercolor painting is the element of uncertainty in relation to how the water and colors will interact on your paper. To limit the uncertainty, you should develop your knowledge of color theory to better understand how the colors will interact.
Use masking fluid to preserve your whites
You can use masking fluid to cover areas of white paper which you do not want to be hit by paint. This is perfect for doing washes of color whilst keeping areas of paper protected from the paint.
When you are ready, you can easily remove the masking fluid and continue painting in that area.
This is perfect for detailing finer areas in your painting or just to keep areas of white on the paper exposed.
Make corrections using the lifting technique
By using the lifting technique, you can ‘lift’ some of the water and paint from the paper. For example, say you placed down too much green in the trees. You can use the lifting technique to remove some of that color and then make any necessary adjustments.
You will not be able to completely fix any mistakes, but you will be able to mitigate the damage.
Use a hair dryer
There is no need to wait for the paint to dry on your paper before continuing. You can use a hair dryer to speed-up the drying time of the paint. You can even use a hair dryer to just speed-up the drying time of small portions of your painting and leave the rest of the painting wet.
Splatter your paint
A great watercolor painting technique is to splatter paint onto the paper. This creates a very interesting effect which can be perfect for landscapes to depict grass and trees, or just to create some variance in your painting.
All you need to do is load your brush with paint and water and pull the bristles back with your fingers. Then release the bristles and let the paint ‘splatter’ onto the canvas.