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How to paint with watercolors


Related webpages

Learn watercolor painting

Watercolor Painting Course!

Famous Watercolor Artists

Contemporary Watercolor Artists

This is a nice website with simple but effective tips and tricks.



zumstein shop in Zurich centrem behind the Bahnofstrasse, the main shopping area in ZurichSee this picture? It's a shop in Zurich


(Zumstein.ch) where I had a nice talk with an exquisite sales lady working there.

We happened to speak about how to paint with "Acquarells".


We both agreed that painting in watercolors is a very challenging and difficult technique.

How in fact can you achieve that glow from within...

... those qualities of light so often seen in beautiful watercolors?


watercolor luminosity luster and iridiscence in a colman work , first half 1800s

Storm King on the Hudson. 30 x 50 inches, watercolor on paper, by Samuel Colman (1780–1845) - full picture here


That glow within is in the end the result of three fundamentals aspects :

  • Luminosity
  • Luster
  • Iridescence

And to master them it's not easy at all, although it's not impossible to learn it with the right guide and without waiting years of experience.

So why not starting with a real pro? The Dance of Watercolor: Beginners and Beyond ,and above all The Dance of Watercolor: Luminosity, Luster, Iridescence / Advanced Beginners and Beyond by July Cohn, are full of insights and are an outstanding set of lessons.

How to paint with watercolors reviews:

five stars from reviewers

"The experienced watercolorist as well as the absolute beginner can profit from viewing Julie's excellent presentation of three of the fundamentals of watercolor painting: Luminosity, Luster and Iridescence"

"I just assumed that you had to have years of painting experience to achieve these results. Not so!!"

"...easy to follow"

".. will make your paintings glow and shimmer!"


First things first: stretch that paper!

Preparing your paper for watercolor is an essential step, did you know it?

Here is a down to earth method from the 1980s (reference here):

  1. Cut 4 pieces of rightly-sized paper-tape
  2. Lay the paper on a stout drawing board
  3. Dampen the paper with a wet sponge. The paper will wrinkle. There is no need to make the paper very wet
  4. Leave the paper for a few minutes to absrorbe the moisture. Smooth it out gently and secure it to the board with the paper-tape
  5. Leave the paper to dry on the board, away from direct heat, on flat surface

Now the paper is ready even to accept large washes of watercolors.

an equivalent video:



..and in case you can't wait: dry the paper with towel paper!


An interesting variation and tool:

3 august 2010

This is Bob....

Any question? His marvelous website is here.


Daniel Smith - Watercolor Project Book


Jim's watercolor

For me this is the best watercolor lessons website, despite the poor layout and lack of images, you learn a lot! Jim provides you with dayly tips when you subscribe to his free newsletter.



Many tuorials on values, stencils, glazing


Many step by step instructions with easy to follow navigation.



Techniques and materials, birds, foliage. shadows, trees...


Christmas cards and more

Digital watercolor!
The best of the kind, nice and genuine experience


Rod Webb
Flowers, still-life, demo

Watercolor Painting Course!


Return from how to paint with watercolors back to the learning to paint page

Return from how to paint with watercolors back to the homepage.






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