5 things to know before starting watercolors

Before I started watercolors, I was already working with Allie. I was heavily into colored pencils at the time.

Why colored pencils? I have no idea. I wanted to get better at drawing and regular pencils seemed boring to me. Or something like that.

It’s funny because now, I love regular pencils. Well, to be precise – mechanical pencils. But back then, I simply wanted some kind of color.

Enter watercolors. I wanted to try them out. So I looked at watercolor message boards and read what people said. And, I took the advice seriously.

So this article is part their advice which turned out to be true and part my advice. I’ll specify which is which.

Draw two hours for every one hour of painting

Their advice. And, the old man who said this was right.

Painting is the easy part. But if you can’t draw, your paintings will suck anyways. Unless you’re doing paint by numbers, which I assume you’re not doing.

So simply draw two hours for every hour of painting. And I’m not kidding. Painting really is the easy part. You’ll agree with me within a year, assuming you’re practicing daily.

Cheap watercolor paper sucks, but…

This is one I learned the hard way. Cheap watercolor paper sucks. But, your first 10-20 paintings will suck anyways. So you might as well use cheap watercolor paper.

You’ll learn the difference between cheap watercolor paper and good watercolor paper. That said, not in the beginning. You won’t notice.

Another thing – if you’re lucky, you’ll catch decent watercolor paper on sale. Plus, I’m not too far from a Blick store. Their generic is affordable and rumors are it’s actually a high end British brand. I wouldn’t be surprised as their generic is quite good.

I happen to use their generic blocks a lot. I love them. And I’m too lazy to stretch my watercolor paper. Thus, the Blick blocks.

Save your jars

Nothing more annoying than not having clean jars. My wife and I eat tons of kimchi. We save all those jars. She washes them at least twice though before using them for watercolors. You definitely don’t want your brushes to smell like kimchi.

I try to have at least four clean at a time. It sucks to have no clean jars and an inspiration. You need water to paint as it’s watercolor after all.

It’s called watercolors for a reason

You’re not going to have total control over watercolors. If you go into it with the mindset that you can control the water and get the water to do everything you want, you’re only going to get frustrated.

I’ve said before that watercolors aren’t for everyone. It takes a certain personality to love watercolors.

I’m a water person. I absolutely love water.

I’d love nothing more to be in the Caribbean right now with some beautiful women, drinking a nice cocktail.

If you’re totally unable to let go, you won’t like watercolors. Water has a mind of its own. Water wants to do what it wants to do. You have to be comfortable with water doing its thing.

So there will always be at least part of your painting that will have some randomness to it.

Yes. This will bother some people. A lot. I get it. And if you think it will bother you, you’re probably better off with another medium.

If you’re not having fun, you’re going to quit

I paint whatever I want. That’s how I ended up doing fantasy pinups. I paint exactly the type of painting I want to hang up in my office.

Now if you see painting as a chore, you’re only going to get frustrated. And you’ll eventually quit.

This is supposed to be fun.

Now on the other hand, if you absolutely love it, nobody could stop you from getting good. Seriously. You’re going to get good at it.

You’ll find yourself thinking of ideas and painting way longer than you expected to. You’ll get lost in the work. The hours will disappear and you’ll forget about other things.

That’s all a good thing. Unless of course you forget to pay the bills and they shut off the lights on you.

I’m either drawing or painting every single day. Even on a cruise ship, I bring my drawing pad and while everyone else is sleeping in, I find a nice quiet place and draw Allie and Roxy. They always send me selfies right before a vacation so I have them on my phone. And I just draw straight from my phone. It’s great practice!

But yeah, that’s how it will be. You’ll find yourself doing art every chance you get. You’ll find yourself in a coffee shop drawing random people. Then you’ll catch yourself drawing your coffee and you won’t even notice you just did that.

You’ll go on a date and draw your date on your napkin. And you’ll see something outside and you’ll start thinking about how to get that exact same color from the paints you have.

You’ll see a chance for painting and art everywhere you go.


Pinup Artist. Composer. Writer.

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