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How to Paint Watercolor Paintings

A watercolor painting usually progresses in the following manner:

  • Large shapes to small shapes
  • Wet on wet to wet on dry (could also be read as from soft edges to hard edges)
  • Light tones (more water in a mix) to dark tones (less water in a mix)
  • Cool colors (distance) to warm colours (closer to the viewer)

All four groups move along at a similar pace at about the same time.

Watercolor Painting Progression Chart
Watercolor Painting Progression Chart

 

The above is meant as a general guide only not as a rule.

Happy painting,

Joe Cartwright

Watercolor’s Most Important Ingredient

Water is the most important ingredient when painting with watercolor paints.

It is very important to know its characteristics or you will not be able to properly handle this medium.

Many of the wonderful effects achieved in a great watercolor painting are directly attributable to the amount of water on the paper, in your pallet mixes and on your brush. By keeping an eye on just how wet or otherwise all of the above are you can create magical wet on wet washes, dramatic dry brush edges or sharp wet on dry lines and surfaces – as well as an infinite range in between.

The Entrance Sand Bar watercolor painting. Lots of little sand islands with pelicans.
The Entrance Sand Bar watercolor painting

Painting skies

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Tone of the Sky

The sky is usually the lightest part of your painting – better too light than too dark.

If you paint your sky to strong a tone then you will have to paint other parts of your painting even stronger which will reduce the transparency of your painting i.e. if it your paint has to go on too thick to retain its correct tonal relationship amongst its various parts.

This is a simple and maybe obvious point but it is still very important.

Happy painting,

Joe Cartwright