5 Watercolor Mistakes To Avoid

Many years ago, when I was studying in art school, I remember my teacher putting a watercolor exercise and saying “to paint” but she did not give us any kind of recommendation and she hoped that the results were from an expert. Has it ever happened to you?

Because it was not the first or the last time I suffered this experience.

When I began to give private painting classes, high school students came to me feeling very discouraged, thinking that they painted poorly. And when I started teaching these basic steps, the results were incredible.

In a short time some of them managed to win painting competitions in their schools, for others their grades went up a lot, and I remember a comment from a student who told me that her teacher didn't believe that she had actually painted it.

One of my rules as a teacher is not to intervene in my students drawings, because painting is a continuous process of learning. Yes, the first drawings may not turn out how you want, but little by little, the more you paint, the more you improve and this is necessary in your personal and pictorial development.

Since I didn't have someone to guide me, everything I've learned has been through trial and error. I'm self-taught and I want to explain what I've learned to you because I would have loved to find help through this wonderful journey of watercolor.

5 watercolor mistakes that you should avoid:

1. Pencil marks that are too dark

Before we start painting, we usually make a small pencil sketch to guide us while we are painting.

It is very important that the pencil you use is 2H or HB and that when you draw, you make it very soft. So soft that it's almost unseen. So that when we finish painting we can erase it easily.

If not, when we try to erase dark marks you will ruin the paper.

2. Using greasy erasers

The best for watercolor is a gummy eraser, it is also often used for charcoal drawing.

Why? If you use greasy erasers, they leave a mark on the paper that you can't see, but when you paint on it you realize that something is not right. If the paper has a remnant of that grease, the water will not absorb well.

Try to erase as little as possible while you are sketching.

3. Starting with dark tones first

You always have to go from light to dark. How is this achieved?

Bearing in mind that watercolor is a technique where WATER IS THE MAIN CHARACTER in the movie. The more water you use, the lighter the pigment will be.

4. It is not a technique for the impatient

When you paint your first coat with light shades, you have to KNOW HOW TO WAIT for the water to dry on the paper to give a new darker layer and continue until you have the color you desire. As you grow in the technique and you know more about the absorption of water, you can try new things such as a wet-on-wet technique, etc. which we will talk about later.

5. Too heavy with your brushstrokes

A very common mistake is to make a lot of brushstrokes in the same place as if we were working with acrylic or oil. By doing this you only get two things: the paper spoils and the color does not reach the transparency that gives the watercolor it's value, freshness and naturalness.

The trick is to know that we USE THE BRUSH AS A GUIDE TO DEPOSIT THE WATER. It's as simple as that. When the water is in the place we want, we have to let it do its job.

I hope these tips have helped you and above all that they encourage you to lose the fear of painting. There will always be insecurities in our minds that tell us "you're not good enough for this", "it's not pretty enough" or "nobody will like my painting" etc. So when this happens, we must change our way of thinking and discover that painting goes beyond being anxious about the result: it is an experience for our senses, for our mind, emotions, etc. And that is what is really important!

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