6 Easy Beginner Watercolour Ideas

test color first, color mixing for beginners, watercolour test strip, watercolor paint color mixes, debiriley.com

Watercolour Ideas. Easy, simple, beginner friendly.Finding the  ‘perfect fit’  –  the right watercolour approach, Beginner friendly tips and techniques can be like playing hide and seek when you are a beginner.

The White Floral, below, was really a simple basic painting. Done in a limited palette, a bit of splatter and very impressionist approach!


debiriley at Society 6, white floral watercolor, debiriley.com
Society 6 debiriley

6  Watercolour Techniques that are easy for Beginners to learn and practice

Simple basic watercolor techniques are the the key to creating amazing ideas that help you make delightful beautiful art images.

There are many, many ideas, styles, approaches out there for you to get ideas from. Some will work perfectly for you, others won’t.  Hopefully,  one or two I will  show may work for you!


Test Strip  colour drenched

Having a test strip handy to test the colours and tones is an ideal way to improve your paintings. You avoid the wrong colour and tone before you put it onto the paper – Easy!  Once in a while,  a Test Strip becomes a stunning work of art in its own right. A stand alone image with just the right balance of colours, tones, shapes, movement.  I know….. It was an accident.

 watercolour test strip debiriley.com
Lori’s watercolour test strip


However,  remember that many many artworks were  created from inadvertent mistakes and ‘happy accidents.’  And we like happy!  So do not let that stop you from seeing the beauty in an image!


watercolour landscape using blue and orange, debiriley.com
Dry Lands watercolour landscape

Aerial Perspective

Easy! Just put warmer colours like red, orange, yellow in front of the cooler colours like green, blue, dull lavender and grey.   As long as the front foreground has the warmer colours and the background area has the cooler colours, you have a nice sense of depth and perspective happening.


maimeri ultramarine pb29
maimeri ultramarine mix

Graded wash

Graded wash is simply making the top darker in tone, then going progressively paler toward the bottom area.  (or vice versa!)   This simple little tip will work perfectly for skies. For  lakes,  tables, meadows, hills, rocks, roads, etc…. reverse it so the dark is on bottom and the lighter tone is top.    You can do an entire painting using this idea and approach.


Wet in Wet forest

Wet in wet technique is simple: the paper is wet, the brush is wet!   And …if you use One colour until you feel really at ease with it,  it works like a charm.   Make sure that you have at least 3  types of tonal values – a Light pale tone;  a mid tone;  and the deep Dark tone.  This is what will give the image the illusion of depth.   A Post Watercolour Beginners 10 Tips to get You Started      is an excellent one to refer back to.


wet in wet watercolour skies, debiriley.com
Wet in Wet watercolour skies, debiriley.com

Wet in wet  sky

Wet in wet sky.  The paper is wet, brush is wet – but I suggest perhaps 3-4  strokes of sky colour at the most!!  no more.    2 is better.    With the 3rd if needed, towards the horizon …a faint shimmer, a whisper of pale tone.

The horizon IS  paler;  check it out.


winter watercolour, debiriley.com
Winter watercolour debiriley.com

Monochrome Landscapes

Monochromes are simply paintings done in 1 colour.    This makes it really really easy for watercolour beginners to get a better painting.  Even working in a Limited Palette of just 2 or 3 colors is a big help.

Less worries, frustrations about trying to mix up too many other colour mixes and getting mud!    The tonal value structure you will get in a monochrome will nearly always be spot on, vs  when beginners are working in full spectrum colour range.   

monochromatic watercolour landscape debiriley.com
Monochromatic Landscape



The last image, Splatter Fun!   Is Super Easy.

Load up an old toothbrush with paint and then splatter away in the targeted area.   This is wonderful for texture and details close up, especially on Dry paper.  You can see in the back it was damp and how it blurred, melted into the distance. Great for recession, distance.   This is a very playful and fun idea to try for watercolour beginners – or just anyone really!

splatter watercolour depth debiriley.com



Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

14 thoughts on “6 Easy Beginner Watercolour Ideas

  1. I always enjoy your wonderful posts with your beautiful paintings and interesting tips for watercolor paintings. You have a very intuitive feeling for a good composition which I love. Have a wonderful day, regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you most kindly!! I’ve tried to drill it into myself over the years “Where the Focal Point Should Go!” and I hear myself saying … often enough. lol. But I’ve learned over the years, to operate on the premise of “paint more, practice more, do more” in the hopes…. that I shall improve and get some I do like, as not every time up to bat is a ‘home run.’ alas. I think, in some form or another – I do something creative, each day. It may only be a mental painting whilst at a stoplight!

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      1. Me, too. Sitting in the car waiting for a shop to open, I open my handbag look for a piece of paper and a pencil and invent some new designs for jewelry. Even when I go to bed I invent things in my head. Good to know that I’m not the only one. Then I loose the feeling that I’m weird 🙂

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  2. This isn’t coming through fully on my ipad but I just want to say THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. And thank you. Because I know that when I’m able to view this post, I will have at least one a-ha moment, as I do when viewing your WC tips posts! You’ve helped me so much with your generosity and talent. I hope blessings chase you down, Debi. You deserve them. 💜

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    1. hi Laura, thank you so much 🙂 Was wondering if the format with the slideshow caused the viewing problem? can you view it now? let me know please 🙂 may not do slideshow if its not viewable! thank you for unleashing good blessings to ‘chase me down’ – love that – made me smile 🙂

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  3. Beautiful paintings Debi, I really like your tips. I haven’t painted with watercolor, except underpaintings, but would like to one of these days – and your discussions are very helpful.

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    1. Mary, thank you 🙂 If you want to Start….. and have a query on how. or what. ask me and I’ll see what I can do to help!! Thank you again very much! have a lovely day and happy painting Debi

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    1. Thank you so much – I Love……… mood, atmosphere, feeling!! hmmm, yes, I know. obviously. LOL anyway thank you for the compliment. Just thought I’d ask if you’d heard of the artist Edward Seago? oil and watercolorist who was a brilliant artist .. another hero of mine. one to look up and see his paintings. He mastered mood and atmosphere to a ‘t’ sensational Colours! and beautiful landscapes 🙂 cheers, debi


  4. “Happy Accidents” – music to my ears. So much good advice and direction in your post, which is mirrored in the exercises I’m doing at present from the Tate Watercolour Manual. Thanks again for recommending it; I think I’m seeing some progress already 🙂

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