8 Basic Watercolor Techniques

Getting started with watercolor painting? Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor shows you eight techniques to create gorgeous watercolor art.

Basic Techniques, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor

Flat Wash

Prop up watercolor paper on a support board, and dip your brush in a puddle of paint. Then touch it to the paper, guiding the paint in a horizontal direction as it forms a small bead of paint. Gently nudge the bead along in a horizontal stroke. When the bead is almost gone, reload your brush with paint, and touch it to the spot where the bead disappeared. Continue replacing the bead where it disappears to avoid forming a line as the paint dries.

Flat Wash, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor

Graded Wash

Create a lighter color effect down the page by filling the brush with water instead of paint. More water is added with each stroke, so the color fades gradually as you work your way down.

Graded Wash, Anywhere, Anytime Art: WatercolorWet-into-Wet

For a liquid-looking wash on subjects like skies, bodies of water, and large flower petals, spread clean water on your paper with a clean brush, and then dip a soupy puddle of paint into the wet area.

Wet-Into-Wet, Anywhere, Anytime Art: WatercolorColor-into-Color

Place two colors close enough to touch and mix together.

Color-into-Color, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor

Wet-on-Dry Paint

Add new paint onto a layer of dried paint.

Wet-on-Dry Paint, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor

Softened Edges

Blend an additional layer or soften an edge using a damp brush, and wiggle it parallel to the hard edge until the paint blurs. A slightly stiffer brush works well for this.Softened Edges, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor


Layer watery washes on top of each other. Each wash must be completely dry before you add another so that the colors don’t mix. This builds depth and can result in a luminous effect.

Glazing, Anywhere, Anytime Art: WatercolorWet-on-Dry Paper

Apply wet paint onto dry paper for the most control over your paint and crisper edges.

Wet-on-Dry Paper, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor

Fixing Mistakes

Mistakes are part of the painting process, but here are a few ways to fix them:

  • Paint clean water over the mistake, and dab it with a tissue to lift off the paint.
  • Rub the paint off with a wet eraser cleaning sponge; then dab and repeat if necessary.
  • Use a damp, stiff brush (a scrubber) to lift off the paint, but be gentle to avoid ruining your paper.

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Anywhere, Anytime Art: WatercolorAnyone can draw and paint, anywhere and at any time!

Whether in your backyard or while traveling the world, Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor is an inspirational, easy-to-use reference guide for artists who seek to expand their artistic horizons in new and adventurous ways. After a basic overview of tools and materials, learn how to find inspiration and beauty everywhere and in everything. Discover how to create a portable pack-and-carry supply box to create art spontaneously, even while on the go. Basic drawing and painting techniques, approachable step-by-step projects, and instructions for working with tools outside the studio demonstrate how easy it is to draw and paint without too much advanced planning. Anywhere, Anytime Art: Watercolor inspires artists of all skill levels to embrace their creative side to create beautiful works of art wherever they might be, from Monet’s garden in Giverny, France, to sitting in their car on a rainy morning.