Learning anything is challenging, but it should also be enjoyable.
If you have decided to start learning to paint in watercolours it would be normal to feel slightly nervous and intimidated by the other budding artists in your class. And if you are really not one for group learning then you may be best suited to an online watercolour class.
There’s also the matter of finding the time which is a precious commodity these days.
For these reasons it’s a good idea to make sure that you seek out as many resources as possible upfront to help you. So whether that’s the library, watercolour painting societies that inspire you, or a free watercolour painting tutorial from the internet, it will all add to your learning and development.
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In this article you will find out how to learn to paint watercolour, as well as what resources in the form of print, TV, video an online are available to you.
The Best Books for Learning to Paint Watercolour
Books have long been our most trusted source of knowledge. They also have the ability of allowing the learner to return again and again.
Many times, books draw on the past, progress to the present and project the future. Other times they act as an instruction manual or ‘How-To Guide’ with space for your own notes.
Learning to paint in watercolours with success depends on mastering a number of steps and process.
Books can help you to learn almost everything to help you learning to paint watercolour as a beginner. From mixing paints in the proper rations to general colour theory, books can be extremely useful.
Learn to Paint Watercolour in a Course
A common misconception is that oil and acrylic painting are the most challenging painting mediums, however learning to paint watercolour is in fact, more difficult than these two.
Look out for the published work of talented watercolour artist, Leslie Frontz who has been painting for 40 years. In her work about learning to paint watercolour, Frontz focuses on equal parts theory and practice with regards to line and shapes, working from photographs, live models and fundamental techniques.
Unlike van Gogh, not all aspiring artists have a deep, instinctual feel for painting. For most of us, there are things to be learnt.
Hazel Harrison, painter and author, is a firm believer in planning: from laying necessary paints and equipment, initial sketching and finished work.
This book, which also focuses on a balance between theory and practice is packed with exercises that will help you to learn proper watercolour techniques before you can progress further. Content is presented in a way that patient and supportive. Before long, you will be able to plan your work from start to finish as if by magic.
If you don’t know anything about painting, then this book is for you.
In this well-assembled manual, divided into five parts, Jenna Rainey covers a specific area of painting, lighting and complex shapes such as the human figure.
By the end, all lessons are connected through a series of valuable exercises. You’ll be surprised to find that you no longer struggle to paint flowers and are able to paint landscapes like never before. For anyone who wants to learn to paint watercolour, Rainey’s resources are highly recommended.
If you are more into an online watercolour class, then Rainey also hosts a YouTube tutorial channel for those who are learning to paint in watercolours.
Other recommended books include:
- Watercolour 365: Daily Tips, Tricks and Techniques by Leslie Redhead
- Modern Watercolour by Kristen van Leuven
- Ten Minute Watercolour by Hazel Soan (yes, the one that presents on the telly!)
- World of Watercolour by Jean Haines
- Mastering Watercolours: a Practical Guide by Joe Cartwright
- The Tao of Watercolour by Jean Carbonetti
Learn Painting from Television
If you are looking for a different kind of watercolour painting tutorial, look out for the television shows that demonstrate how to paint. Don’t forget to check out online TV channels if you don’t find any on your local network.
For instance, Watercolour.tv offers an online watercolour class by artist, Matthew Palmer. His watercolour painting tutorial options are easy for beginners to navigate via his web page. To start, click on the ‘absolute beginner’ and enjoy his online watercolour class.
An online watercolour class where a tricky winter landscape is involved is a good opportunity to practice working with masking fluid.
One of the advantages of watercolour painting tutorials via video is that you can pause, rewind and rewatch to suit your own pace.
Another international TV channel that is accessible via the internet is SAA which also offers video-on-demand through 500 step by step instructional videos.
So whether you are challenged by being able to blend the perfect mix of colours for your autumn landscape or simply cannot achieve the perfect vase of flowers, this channel will have you covered.
Both these TV sites offer a monthly membership fee, but if you are not sure whether an online watercolour class is for you, then check them out for the first 30 days for free.
More Online Watercolour Class Options
If you want to know more about the world of the online watercolour painting tutorial, there are heaps of options.
Apart from following the Instagram pages of your favourite artists, you could tune into online discussions where watercolour painters discuss favourite painting techniques or join in discussions on selected forums that offer good online watercolour painting tutorial options.
Some of the recommended resources available includes content from the following inspirational channels:
- I Like Your Work: follow these chats with artists, curators and gallery owners.
- Colin Bradley Art Cast: this father-and-son duo of watercolour artists can answer your online questions.
- Sketching Stuff: watercolour artist Charlie O’Shields presents this podcast and runs a message board.
- The Left-Brain Artist: if you aim to make a living as an artist, this is the podcast for you.
Podcasts are a great way to get in touch with your inner artist while doing something else like driving a car! And if you feel that you can benefit from some moral support while you are painting then consider listening to podcasts about watercolours while you paint.
Of course there is no shortage of information about anything on the internet and this includes plenty of options for the online watercolour painting tutorial in the form of blogs that offer brilliant ‘how to’ information.
Here is a short list of highly recommended blogs that cover topics on how to learn to paint watercolour:
- The Susan Branch page offers a friendly intimate tone where she shares what drew her to watercolour painting in the first place and how every stroke of her brush is a tribute to the famous artists who inspired and educated her.
- The Scratchmade Journal does a brilliant job of infusing tutorials with friendly anecdotes and general encouragement.
- Doodlewash is the sister page to the Sketching Stuff podcast that is mentioned above. If you’re not sure which art supplies to consider, or if you are looking for inspiration for your next piece of work, this is a valuable resource to consider.
Of course these are only a few options, to find more, simply ask your favourite search engine to deliver!
If we consider that painting in all of its forms is primarily a visual discipline, and if humans are visual learners, then it stands to reason that YouTube videos are a great way to learn how to paint watercolour.
In fact, YouTube is a never-ending source of information.
Some of our favourite channels are hosted by artists from Canada, Italy, Australia, Japan and the UK. Many of them have millions of subscribers. There are also many channels where the artists have uploaded so much video content that they have been able to organise them into playlists for the user to follow along in sequence.
You could choose from professionally edited videos that are an hour in duration or others that address a single technique for your benefit in only a few minutes.
Many of the names mentioned in this article have also offer a YouTube channel as an option. As a bonus they will lead to you to other channels with similar content which in the end creates an informative online community for watercolour artists.
All of these resources are excellent ways to supplement your formal painting lessons. Consider a private watercolour tutor as one of the most effective ways to learn how to paint.
If you want to take up watercolour painting for beginners and want to make use of all the extra tutorials and resources that you can possibly fit into your schedule, now you should have plenty of ideas of where to look.
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