4 Random Watercolor Observations

Here are four random watercolor observations. I’ll probably do an article on random watercolor observations every three or four months. I’ll always add more as I learn more. As should you.

Paper first, paints second, brushes third

I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again. When budgeting watercolors, you need to spend your money first and foremost on good watercolor paper. I’ve had bad watercolor paper destroy otherwise decent creations.

The good news though was that this was early on. None of these paintings were good enough to sell anyways. But had I ruined a watercolor painting by using cheap watercolor paper today, I’d be bummed.

Second, you’re going to need at least professional level paints. Cheap paints have cheap pigmentation since they have to cut corners somewhere to make a profit. That’s the number one rule of business – make a profit. If you’re going to use high end supplies for your colors, you’re simply going to have to charge more. And vice versa.

You can fool buyers with cheap paints. But you won’t full yourself. You’ll find yourself doing a little bit extra work to make cheap paints behave the way you want them to.

As for cheap watercolor brushes, I got away with using cheap watercolor brushes until only a week ago. I’m totally in love with these good brushes now. No, I still don’t own elite end brushes (ranging over $100 a brush). But at least these intermediate brushes are a huge upgrade over what I had before.

You’re going to like more than one brand of paints

I started off with Daniel Smith paints. To this day, I love that brand.

But as time went on, I bought other brands here and there. I wanted to branch out. And you know what? As long as you’re not using the low end watercolor paint, you’re good.

random watercolor observations
The longer you paint, the more paints you’ll just end up with

I’ve come to love Winsor and Newton as well. Even Blick brand artist grade paints are quite good. I bought those because Blick had a sale at a price I simply couldn’t refuse. I had to try them.

For gouache, I’ve bought cheap gouache and it sucks. Big time. Then I decided to take gouache seriously and brought M Graham. I absolutely love those paints! They’re made with honey so you have to treat them slightly differently. You’ll see what I mean when you paint with them.

Update March 10, 2023 - I've since fell in love with the French watercolor paints Sennelier.  Two things - I don't do any affiliate marketing so when I recommend something, it's because I love it.  Also, I strongly suggest you try different paints.  What you like and what I like may differ and that's perfectly ok! After all, we may have totally different styles.

You’re going to throw some works away

If you want to get better at anything, not just watercolor, but anything, you’re going to have to take some risks. This applies to everything from art to sports to cooking to investing to anything else I can think of.

This is why I’m so adamant about having a watercolor journal. You could do your experimenting in that thing without breaking the bank.

Still, a lot of your works will suck. Even when you’ve been painting for awhile.

I say – keep going. Get them out of your system.

I also say to take risks. Lots of risks. Do things that are out of your comfort zone.

Recently, I painted a gouache sunset. It was terrible. It ended up in the trash. If you saw it, you’d see why.

Did I learn anything from it? Of course!

Ironically, you often learn more from your failures than your successes. I’m not a psychologist, so I can’t tell you why that is. I just know that at least for me, it is.

The painting becomes the easy part

I remember when I first started painting, I read somewhere from a very talented old man watercolor artist that he wished he practiced two hours of drawing for every one hour of painting.

Now I get it. The painting becomes the easy part.

But drawing? You’re always having to hone those skills. Drawing really does take a lifetime to master.

At least once a week, I get together with my two models Allie or Roxy and do a live figure drawing. These live figure drawings end up in my pinup art. Actually, they’re the backbone of my pinup art.

Keep drawing every chance you get.

My wife and I went on a three week vacation recently and I took my drawing pad with me. Both Allie and Roxy did me a big favor and left me some nude selfies to work with.

Every day, we had at least an hour of downtime. I practiced my drawing and some of those sketches ended up in my art when we got back.

Your random watercolor observations?

Do you have anything random you could tell me? Or share with our readers?

Spill it! Would love to hear it.

By Roman

Pinup Artist. Composer. Writer.

1 comment

  1. Paper, Paint, then brushes in that order. I got lucky very early and was gifted a 1/4 sheet of 200# Saunders-Waterford about 6 weeks after I started watercolour classes. The class clubbed together to save on shipping and I ordered 50 sheets pre-cut in 1/4 sheets. Somehow I ended up with 100 1/4 sheets. This solved the ‘worry’ of ‘ruining’ a piece of paper. I always keep a large stock of paper since then.

    Learned early the different between student and artist grade. Sold off all my student grade paint to other students in that first class. Purchased box set of 24 15ml tubes of White-Knight. They surficed for the next couple of years until I got lucky and purchased 50 Daniel-Smith tubes for $100. Later I decided I wanted some CadRed, CadOrange, and CadYellow. DS had went all ‘west coast’ on me with cad-free colours. Purchased 37ml tubes of American Journey. Learned that lesson well.

    Unless you are painting exclusively for the TSA, add gouache, ink, and even acrylic to your painting. Back in the 1800’s, J.M.W. Turner used bodycolour: aka gouache for his “watercolour” paintings and he mixed watercolour with oil painting. Mixed media is really 200 years old or more.

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