What to paint with watercolors


Watercolor is a paint with water as its main component. It is the dilution of this paint with water that helps to achieve those very different effects and techniques that watercolorists use.

In general watercolor as a paint is known in the world since ancient Egypt and China. In ancient times it was counted as graphic art, however water color painting as we know it nowadays started its development in XVIII century. Artists of that time separated it from the traditional oil painting and proclaimed it one of the most difficult techniques a painter could master.

Over time, the peculiarities of working with watercolors began to be studied more, new techniques appeared, artists began to experiment with watercolor and other materials, ways of painting. A lot of new and interesting techniques appeared, and consequently, the scope for creativity.

And in this article we will also look at the basic techniques, as well as not the most common and obvious, but no less interesting. Read this article to the end to find out what watercolor techniques artists use, what the raw technique is, and more.

First, let’s look at a few basic watercolor painting techniques, and then let’s go over mixed techniques.

6 types of watercolor painting techniques

Unusual drawing technique with salt

If you’re into drawing, you’ve probably already heard that sometimes, when working with watercolors, artists use salt when creating their works.

In fact, watercolor with salt is a very accessible and quite uncomplicated technique, as it may seem at first glance. In addition, it is still interesting and unusual, but there are a few nuances that you need to know to get it right.

Salt can be used both coarse and fine. Scattered over a sheet of paper with paint, it seems to “eat up” the watercolor, forming a very beautiful and unusual texture. It is important to pour salt on the first, fresh layer of paint that has not yet dried. After it has dried, you can remove the salt particles from the paper with a dry brush.

You can use this technique either completely, in the whole drawing, or partially, emphasizing some individual parts of the drawing.

To make a drawing in this technique, put paint on a sheet of paper, make the drawing you want. Wait for the paint to dry slightly, but remain wet and damp. Then, sprinkle salt over the drawing.

Wait until the work is completely dry, this may take 20 to 30 minutes. You can then shake off the painted salt crystals and lightly run a dry, clean brush over the design. When the drawing is dry and you have removed the excess salt, you can continue painting, adding new subjects and details to your drawing.

Stroke and smudge technique

Smears and stains can work in a mixed technique. This is very convenient because you can combine several techniques in your drawing and get an interesting result.

It is possible to draw in the following ways:

  • moisten a blank sheet of paper with water and apply paint in large strokes;
  • Work out the outline of the drawing and make a blur;
  • apply layers of paint gradually, using glaze strokes.

Most often, the technique of brushstrokes and stains is applied in a multilayer technique.

This technique also has a number of features:

  • the image looks more realistic;
  • each layer must have time to dry before applying the next;
  • strokes need to be applied so that their boundaries were visible;
  • strokes are applied airily and easily.

The technique of painting on wet

Now let’s look at the wet sheet technique. With this technique, artists apply wet paint to a wet sheet of paper.

To wet the paper well and properly, use a sponge. This way, you will wet the paper faster and start drawing.

Drawing in this technique should be done quickly, before the paper dries. Another feature of wet work is the unpredictability of the final result. While your drawing is drying, its shape may change several times. Because the amount of water causes the outlines to become blurry, the lines of the borders of the drawing may flow smoothly into each other.

To paint a drawing in this technique, you need to:

  • prepare and moisten the paints with water;
  • mix the paints on a palette or a sheet of paper;
  • wet the sheet of paper with water and smooth it out so that there are no “waves
  • remove excess water from the paper with a sponge or cotton pad;
  • make confident, dotted strokes;
  • wait until the drawing is completely dry before correcting the work or adding new details.


Grisaille is a technique of working with paint of one color. This technique is widely used by artists, and is included in the curriculum of creative schools, colleges and universities. Let’s take a closer look at this technique in watercolor painting.

Grisaille technique of watercolor painting, in translation from the French means gray color (that’s if grisaille literally). In this technique, you work primarily with tone, not color.

You can draw in this technique in many different ways. For example:

In color. This is when you draw in one color, such as ochre paint, or sepia.

Black and white grisaille. The whole drawing is created with black and white tones, or gray.

This technique is good because you can focus all your attention on the form, not on the color and how to convey it. Very well in the technique grisaille to draw vases, sculptures, still life with cups. Also when working in this technique you need to know the peculiarities of light and shade.

When working in this technique with watercolors, remember that they become a little lighter as they dry. You should not be in a hurry with this technique – you need to wait until each layer dries. Otherwise, it will be difficult for you to apply tones and make changes to your drawing.

In general, this technique is a very good exercise for beginners. After all, you have the opportunity to see all the advantages of a single color and its shades.

Dry brush technique

The technique of painting watercolor on dry is commonly used to convey texture, such as the bark of a tree or rocks, stones, quarry.

You do not wet a sheet of paper with water as in wet technique, you get paint on brush and then blot it with sponge or cloth from excess of liquid in paint. And only then proceed to painting.

When working in this technique try to apply as little paint as possible, working quickly and easily with a brush brush strokes on paper.

Use watercolor in tubes, because it allows using less water. Use round, pointed brushes. The main part of the brush can be used for big strokes and the tip for working on small parts just to show texture.

Painting with candle or wax

Another non-traditional watercolor technique is drawing with a candle or wax.

Drawing in this technique arouses interest in the creative process, especially in children, and promotes the study of colors and painting as such. In addition, it helps to develop the imagination and teaches the sense of color.

The basic principle is as follows:

  • prepare a sheet of watercolor paper
  • candles, you can use leftovers from old candles, you can take a new candle
  • then, with the candle, simply draw what you like, what you have in mind. The drawing on the white background will be almost invisible, but that is the peculiarity of the technique.
  • afterwards, take your watercolors and start drawing on the sheet – the image will show up under a layer of paint and it will be a kind of “magic” (especially if you draw together with a child).

By the way, instead of candles, you can use wax crayons. They too will be suitable for work in this technique.

Among paints, try to use darker colors – blue, green, purple. This way, the effect of the candle will be more visible. Here also use a minimum of water, but more paint. From brushes take a wide brush and work with confident strokes.

Watercolor painting for beginners – it’s a rich world and room for creativity and imagination. By learning watercolor techniques step by step, you’ll be able to create beautiful drawings with paints and other materials.

Step-by-step drawing techniques and techniques show that even beginners can cope and draw, regardless of experience.

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