Top Watercolor Tips for Beginners

One of the most asked questions I get as an artist is…

“What advice would you give to someone starting watercolor?

It’s gonna sound pretty lame, but the best advice I could give you to just Dare to BeginYou see, most of the time, the problem with beginning something isn’t in how you execute it but rather what’s going on in here in your head.  For some reason, our brains just freeze and we question whether we are doing it right or whether it will look good enough.   

5 best watercolor tips


Similar to running – if I constantly wonder what people will think of me or if my form is perfect – yet never take a step outside (what’s the point).   So the first bit of advice I give to anyone trying watercolor is don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Maybe, before you start an actual project  you care about start with some basic watercolor exercises. 

  • Such as painting different values of one color.
  • Or perhaps merging two colors together.
  • Try mixing several color combos together.   
  • Thick about patterns you could create with those new colors. 
  • You can also try painting lines as thin and as close to each other as you possibly can. 

These are really basic exercises similar to stretching before a run.  They loosen you up and get you in the mood of painting. 

keep a log


There is no way you are going to remember everything you’ve been learning, so it’s best to jot down some thoughts as well as some examples of your work.

  • Such as paint colors you really like or colors that mix well together. 
  • You could also keep a log of watercolor textures – such as adding salt, gold paint, ink, or whatever else you can think of to your paint.  

These will help you remember your favorite color combos, textures, etc. when painting your masterpiece later on.   

express yourself


As you continue to work on your artistic style (how you paint, how you draw, even how you craft or decorate your house) make sure that what you are creating is expressing you.   If it’s not you, you’re going to find yourself unhappy about what you have accomplished.   What do I mean by this?   Well, for years, I tried to paint super realism – such as baby portraits, flowers, pets, etc.   Most of these were commissions from clients.  I was told that was the highest achievement one could master in watercolor and I wanted to master it.   I tried for years and actually got pretty good later in life.   But, I never felt completely satisfied with my work.   It always fell flat for me.    As I continued to paint, I noticed I was more fulfilled by the illustrative paintings than my higher realistic ones and they came more naturally to me.    Now, if you like hyper realistic watercolor then great!  That is awesome!  But if you enjoy more abstract watercolor then pursue that!  Hear me out – there is nothing wrong with trying and learning other styles – but make sure that you are at least setting aside some time to pursue what YOU like.  Studying realistic watercolor helped me tremendously with my painting skills for illustration.  So I highly recommend you experiment with other styles while at the same time remaining true to what you like. 


Realize comparison is the quickest way to kill any creative spirit.   It’s fine to want to learn from other artist, but don’t compare your journey with theirs.  It’s not fair to you or them.   Here’s some background story time on me, in college I wanted to take an art class just for fun.   I ended up in the class and literally was the worst student in the class.   But I worked my but off in that class, and by the end of the semester, the teacher told me I was the most improved student he had ever seen.   It wasn’t easy, and if I had compared myself to my fellow students (students who had been taking art classes since they were 3)  I could have/ probably would have given up if I allowed my brain to go to that negative space.   But I instead, saw it as a chance to soak up as much information as I possibly could and not be afraid to ask questions and try new things.   I was on my own journey and if I didn’t do this I knew I would regret it later.   So I took one semester of art and worked from a D- at the beginning of the semester to an A+.   It was the best grade I received that semester and I was super proud.   Things didn’t end up as planned and after the class was over I had to stop my schooling for a semester.   I never got another chance to take another college level art class – but most of the stuff I teach you guys I learned in that one class.   If I had given up, who knows where I’d be right now.   

Life doesn’t typically go as planned, but when an opportunity arrises, really take heart and think about pursuing it.  Because you never know if that door will open again.   


As usually guys, it’s been a pleasure and I will see you next time!

Carrie Luc - Watercolor Misfit

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?


  • Arti
    February 2, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Hi Carrie, love your stuff. Totally aside, could you tell me a bit more about the cool string of rocks(?) hanging near the window about 2/3rds into this video? Did you make it? Thanks.

  • Jennifer Hill
    April 3, 2017 at 11:32 am

    Dear Carrie, I’m so excited to have found you. All my life, I’ve wanted to learn how to draw & paint. I remember learning perspective in 6th grade & being so jazzed up by my road & the power poles diminishing in the distance. I was 10. Then, there was an old Spanish church w the coolest stone work, in my early teens. I’m now 61. I have no idea how long i have, but I’m going to learn.
    I don’t expect to be Monet or Matisse, but i want to be the best i can be. I want to enjoy & explore.
    In times past, young people of wealth took the Grand Tour… Europe & the Mediterranean were available & each was expected to learn to sketch & paint & journal.
    With the Internet, I, too, have access to those beautiful places, as well as everything in our hemisphere.
    I’m looking forward to this. Thank you so very much for being here.

    • Misfit
      April 3, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      You are welcome Jennifer! :D I love how the internet makes the world just a bit smaller to help us connect!


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