Creativity is for Everyone!

Watercolor: Building up the Layers


When I first started working in watercolor I was intimidated by paintings with highlights and shadows. I thought I couldn’t possibly paint several layers. I hoped I could paint one layer and make it good enough. As I got comfortable with watercolor, I realized it’s all about building up the layers of paint. You start out in theย ugly stages and as you add, and add, you [hopefully] turn the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan. I liked that you built it up, because mistakes could be covered or fixed. Each brushstroke wasn’t make or break. It’s a process.

This is what I was thinking about when I painted this sunflower this morning. How the ugly stage was awfully ugly! And how each layer of watercolor I added made the painting better. Originally I planned to add ink to the flower when I was done painting. As I got closer to finishing, I liked it the way it was. My daughter agreed.

Author: Eileen McKenna {my creative resolution}

Watercolor Artist, seascape painter, collector of creative inspiration. Sign up for my newsletter for a weekly dose of creative inspiration and to receive the free pdf "Watercolor Basics" โ€“ Visit:

19 thoughts on “Watercolor: Building up the Layers

  1. I really like the result! I admire your ability to do it in glazes, I don’t ever have the patience to wait for the paper to be completely dry.

  2. I like it too! How do you know when to stop adding layers, though. That’s where I have trouble. When each layer makes it better….when to stop? Yours is very nice. Beautiful colors!

  3. I love this. I totally relate to the ugly phase, it is part of the process – work with it. Like remodeling a house, things get worse before they get better. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Your sunflower is lovely! Watching the transformation is one of my favorite things about creating. Sometimes the “ugly stages” can be highly frustrating, but by patiently keeping up the layering it somehow magically becomes our own masterpiece. Keep up the beautiful work!

  5. I may have mentioned this, but I love watercolors. I can’t paint but I love to look at other people’s art. This was cool seeing the progression of this sunflower… it’s lovely.

  6. This is wonderful ~ love the center of the sunflower. Extraordinary!

  7. Beautiful work – I love watercolours!

  8. Thank you for sharing your process. I am just learning to handle acrylics and am also learning that everything has to go through an ugly stage. Of course, some of my paintings stay ugly but there is at least a prospect that some will come together.

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