6 Tips for Watercolor Success

Watercolor Seascape by Eileen McKenna

Watercolor is such a magical medium! I love it. As I sit and paint I often think that no matter what the subject – a landscape or illustration – the painting process is similar. There are basic concepts that apply to almost every painting.

If you are new to watercolor – welcome! Think about these concepts as you paint:

Basic Watercolor Concepts

  1. Work light to dark.
  2. Work wet to dry.
  3. Work bigger brush to thinner brush.
  4. Build up the layers of paint, remembering tips 1-3. Allow time for paint to dry between layers.
  5. Unless you want colors to bleed into one another, do not paint next to wet paint.
  6. Find opportunities in your subject for the bleeding and blending of colors – that is the magical quality of watercolor! 

Basic Watercolor Concepts explained

1-3. Work light to dark. Work wet to dry. Work bigger brush to thinner brush.

When you begin a painting your brush should be fairly wet (with paint and water). The paint should glide onto the paper. You can even wet the page or an area of the page with water before you touch the brush to the wet surface.

These beginning blobs are the first layer of your painting. Usually they are the lighter colors. After they dry you can add more paint on top of them. With each layer your brush should be less drippy, so you can paint finer and finer details. With a drier brush the paint spreads less when it touches the paper.

4. Build up the layers of paint

The stages of a watercolor painting are like a camera coming into focus. The first layer is blurry. Each layer gets more and more crisp and detailed. Let the paint dry before adding another layer, so it doesn’t bleed into the last layer. As you paint the later layers, work with a thinner brush. It makes it easier to paint fine lines.

5-6. Watercolor bleeding and blending

When you want it to happen, the bleeding and blending of colors is beautiful. It creates such interesting effects. The watercolor paint is doing the work for you! Think reds and greens bleeding into one another to create fall foliage. When you don’t want this happen, let paint dry before adding wet paint near it.

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Six tips for Watercolor Success

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's resolution #resolution #new #years
My 2014 resolution was to be more creative. I came across a note I wrote six months in, “just pull out the paints.” Now, four years later, I realize keeping a resolution isn’t that simple. I know my success has been much more specific than that. There are ups and downs to any resolution. There are times when you are into it, and times when you aren’t. Sometimes it’s hard to just “pull out the paints” (or eat a salad, or put on your running shoes, or stay away from sugar, etc.). Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to help me keep my creative resolution.

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution:

  1. Make a “positive” resolution. Your resolution should be about what you are going to do, not what you are not going to do. For example – Eat healthy vs. Stop eating junk.
  2. Research your resolution. Read books, magazines, blogs, or watch videos about your topic. Learning about your topic will motivate you, and help you on your journey.
  3. Tell people about your resolution. The more you tell others what you have resolved to do, the more you’ll feel committed to doing it, and it may help you connect with people with similar goals.
  4. Keep track of your progress. Keep a journal, or a blog about your journey, and include all your struggles and victories. Reread it from time to time to remind yourself how far you’ve come. The blogging community can be very supportive!
  5. Be realistic. Start small. If your resolution is running, you can’t expect to run 3 miles the first day out. And if you do, you’ll probably not want to run the next day! Start small, and build on it.
  6. Spend money. You’ll be more motivated and committed if you spend money. It’s the spending guilt! Buy new healthy snacks, new running sneakers, art supplies, or whatever items support your resolution.
  7. Schedule time. You can’t change your eating, or exercise, or paint, or meditate, if you don’t have time. Make your resolution a priority by scheduling time for it.
  8. Be specific. Although my resolution was to be more creative, on a weekly basis I write a list of specific goals and to do items within that resolution.
  9. Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing gets boring. After you achieve the first level of success, challenge yourself with new goals within your resolution – a new type of exercise, sign up for a race, register for a class, commit to making a new healthy recipe each week, or try another art form. Keep things interesting!

According to statisticbrain.com 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. I hope my tips help you keep your resolution this year. 🙂

What are your creative plans for 2020? Hoping for a creative year but don’t know where to start? Try my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life – Develop a regular practice of creating, explore mediums and subjects in search of your thing, and experience the joy that creativity brings. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

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