The Biggest Watercolor Mistakes to Avoid

What are the biggest mistakes most beginners make when painting with watercolor?  This is a question I get asked quite a bit and I would say there are two mistakes that I find most beginners falling into when starting watercolor.

  1. Water Control Problems
  2. Dry Time Problems

Water Control

I would say the number one biggest mistake is not using enough water or using too much.   Watercolor is very much a balancing act with your paint and you probably guessed it water.   When painting – we are constantly trying to measure the amount of water to paint we are using.   This concept is known as paint ratios.   

But how much water do you actually need to use when working with watercolor?  The best way to explain this concept is to show you what too much water looks like and then what too little water looks like. 

Too Little Water

Too Little Water is often seen when your watercolor paint has not been saturated enough with water.   You can see this very easily when pushing your brush over the paper and seeing more of a speckle pattern – also known as dry brushing.   This is an extreme case of too little water – but keep in mind watercolor should flow over the paper with ease – thus if you find yourself pushing your paint over the paper with a bit of resistance – you still have too little water.

Too Much Water

This can be seen when having too much water in your push to the point that your water domes upon the paper.   If you see these dome-like shapes rising above your paper – the paint will slowly push outward as it dries and create pigment lines around the outer edge of your shape.   

The Correct Amount of Water

So what is the correct amount of water? Well whether you are painting wet on wet or wet on dry – you should be seeing a nice sheen or color or water along the surface of the paper.   This sheen should be thick enough to coat the paper but lower than a dome shape thus preventing uneven drying.   You should also notice the paint will glide along the paper smoothly and effortlessly leaving fewer brush strokes on your page. 

This is honestly one of my best tips for getting super smooth and even washes of color.   Once you really get a handle on the correct water to paint ratio to use on your paper – your colors will appear smoother and more crisp after drying.

Curious about My Biggest Watercolor Mistake?

Make sure to check out this post below to learn another common watercolor mistake that I fall into.


About Author

Hi there! My name is Carrie and I'm a Watercolor Misfit! What's a Watercolor Misfit? Well, anyone who is willing to try new things and not afraid to get their hands covered in paint! So what do you say, are you a Misfit-ian?

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