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What I've learned about watercolors

Updated: Jun 2

The journey's just began...
elephant octopus creature in watercolour

Over the last few years I've been testing out different mediums I could travel with easier than my paints.

The last few months I decided I was going to start practicing with watercolours again. A lovely artist in Belgium took the time to help me get over my mental block with them. So here's what I've learned about watercolors?

1. You can layer with them:

I always thought that it would be a lot more difficult to get layers built up with watercolours. Although tricky at first, as with anything, practice was so helpful in getting more comfortable doing it.

2. You can do finely detailed work

I had this preconception that getting a very orderly, finely detailed painting wasn't something you could do with watercolours. When I thought of watercolours I thought of the free, flowing, airy quality that is so synonymous with them.

3. Quality does matter

When I first started trying different watercolours I was really disappointed with my results. Trying to get deeply saturated colours just wasn't happening. My blends were washed out and when they dried they ended up flaking or having a chalky feel to them. Once I tried a higher quality of paints I was amazed at the difference. You don't have to break the bank to get a good quality paint either.

Which is a bonus.

4. Brushes matter also

My first few attempts I had just used what brushes I had on hand. Although I had some brushes that worked well I quickly learned that I needed to get brushes that were able to hold alot of paint but also be able to keep its shape. In the end I ended up with an assortment of brushes from ones that cost a few dollars to the higher priced ones. I think each artist ends up with their own preferences but a few of my favourites are listed here.

Princeton: a nice mid range price point and good quality I had initially bought a neptune. set simply because I liked the way they looked but ended up enjoying the feel of them.

Royal and langnickle: has a fairly affordable range of brushes again I picked up these brushes simply because I loved the blue colour of the menta brushes and ended up really liking them. My favorite in these is the 3/4 19mm wash brush. I also had a few of the zen collection in my collection of brushes I hardly used them because they were not what I wanted in an acrylic brush. I was very pleased to realize they were good for waters. I love the liners.

Windsor and newton: I had acquired a few of the larger rounds from the professional series when I was in Prague a few years ago and they had sadly got lost when I moved. So after I decided to really give watercolours a try I picked them up again. They are a little more price wise than the others but in saying that they are a higher quality brush. The thing I find with them is they last a long time if taken care of properly.

And My favourite #2 round is a dollar store find. You just never know when you'll find that right brush.

My personal preferences ended up being all synthetics.

I still have a lot to learn but I've had a blast along the way and can't wait to learn more.


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