Beginner Watercolor “Blooms”!

easy beginners watercolor techniques, watercolor landscape painting tips, naples yellow, prussian blue,

Watercolor ‘Blooms’… again. Oh dear. Are they spoiling your fun?  How do these  accidental splotches happen, how can you avoid them and how can you turn them into great creative assets? Great mini watercolor lesson on techniques for beginners!

beginners watercolor techniques, tips, blooms,
Water Blooms are Lovely


Watercolor Techniques for Beginners

Straight away, start thinking of the nuisance splotches as A Technique. A Skill.


Watercolor Blooms or ‘cauliflowers’  (some call them as well), are irregular splotches and marks where very wet paint has been introduced into an area that is quite a bit dryer, but not Bone Dry.

As the Wet liquid moves in, it begins to creep into and over the other area that wasn’t perfectly dry, Displacing that first color.

The result is a textural mark almost like a tidemark.

beginners watercolor, blooms,
Watercolor Blooms



Avoiding Blooms

To avoid getting a watercolor bloom, you need to ensure your brush is less wet than the paper area you will be applying the next batch of color on.


You may find you need to work just a little bit faster as well.

That is the problem a lot of the times with watercolor beginners.  Their painting speed is quite slow getting the next wash ready and on.  Then…. that first layer is too dry and the forthcoming paint will be too wet.   That equates to “Bloom.”


If you had to get rid of a bloom –  you could camouflage the area with a glaze once it is dry later.  Or another idea,  when its dry,  is to carefully wet the selected area then lift the excess paint with a folded tissue.


watercolor beginner techniques, blooms,
Water Marks, Blooms

The above image with the naples yellow, has “blooms”  on the bottom as well as on the upper top foliage area.  One is so small its barely seen,  the other area looks great!




Watercolor Blooms Technique Uses

These watercolor blooms can be thought of as a beginners’ watercolor technique, a skill for the beginner to master.


Watercolor blooms can be exploited and used in just about every type of painting you do. The blooms can be turned into great clouds, foliage shapes, flower shapes, rocks,  hills, etc. I’ve even turned them into ‘paint drips’  running down the side of a still life can!

All it takes is a bit of creative thinking.  Imagining and thinking…. just What can I do with it?


Probably where you would not want them is in botanical work,  architectural renderings, graphic design, fine detailed portraits.   In those cases,  totally smooth washes might be more appropriate for you.


watercolor watermarks, blooms, beginner watercolor techniques,
Blooms Cauliflowers

Blooms gone wild.  Both examples of blooms in the red and blue were purposely created.



No shame in lovely blooms……


Beginner Watercolor painters just starting out, may have ‘worry issues’  when these Cauliflowers or Blooms occur.

But don’t panic.

Watercolor by its very nature is wet, sloppy and drippy.

Those Blooms will add dimension and build character and depth to the painting you may not otherwise have achieved.

Sometimes, they even save the day and Rescue the painting from monotony!


In some cases, as in my very first image featured, the water marks are so minimal that only the creating artist could detect them.



If I get watercolor blooms and cauliflowers, I feel that I’m in very good company.

Have a look (just Google)  the watercolor paintings by Georgia O’Keefe, John Singer Sargeant,  JW Turner, Edward Seago, Charles Reid, Edward Wesson and see how many blooms they have in their works. I’ve looked and found plenty.

And, if They just left the blooms alone… too can I.



One last thing……

Watercolor Charging Technique is different;  it is not the same as getting a ‘bloom.’

watercolor technique charging, tree reflection landscape,
Trees Charging technique

The  Watercolor Technique Charging the  colors is all about putting progressively dryer brushloads onto the area, all the while trying to achieve:  light tone, mid tone, dark tone.

Looking at this example – the tree foliage tops are lighter, the middle area is mid tone, and the base of the tree foliage is darker tone. This is meant to try to obtain Depth, Form, Shape.

Whereas,  this is not the case with the ‘blooms.’



More great mini lessons can be found at my  Watercolour Tips page for beginners wanting to know more about mixing, foliage, depth, mud, materials, brushes, washes, etc..


On my Gallery page you’ll see a  several examples of the charging technique to compare to the ‘blooms.’




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 and,

37 thoughts on “Beginner Watercolor “Blooms”!

    1. indeed! Thank you!!
      Early on, I likened watercolour to… my life’s pathways – both, sometimes went in opposite directions to what I had on my agenda!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Jill! that was one of the hardest challenges I faced when starting – trying to think around the problems and pitfalls, without getting discouraged. I’d like to pass that along 🙂


  1. Bloomin lovely! BTW I emailed Tony Smibert to thank him for his Lessons from the Great Masters and indicated that you had introduced me to the book. In his reply he asked me to pass on his best wishes to you 🙂 Thanks for pinning his website on Pinterest, which is how it all began. Cheers and a Happy New Year again. Hope you are having a good start to the year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andrew, you are a very thoughtful young man! I’m sure Tony was appreciative of your thanks and acknowledgement. I’ve met him once in Perth, he’s very kind and humble.
      I’m glad I started letting readers know about my art sites on Pinterest now! Thank you Andrew for your thoughfulness. Cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

    1. wow! thats lovely to hear Sharon!! Thank You! btw, if there’s a topic that you might like delved into a bit in the future and I am able – let me know and I could put it on the agenda! thanks Sharon 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Debi – This post is just BLOOMING with loveliness! Such wonderful tips and such EXTRAORDINARY art! I truly gasped out loud as several of them. I so look forward to your posts! Thank you so very much! When I grow up, I want to be you! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ok… and then can we swap a couple other things too? lol Thank you Jodi, as always, such lovely encouraging feedback. I’ve got the image to email you if you’d like it, The Purple one. cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Debi .. I really do like this article about blooms tonight . Very informative and encouraging! … I kind of got stressed out over the holidays and lost patience with myself . lol .. But getting back on track with my inspiration and artistic ideas : blooms and all, I love these watercolour illustrations you have given us and yes, ( oh yes!, the idea to google the Other artists!!..Georgia O’Keeff being another favourite. — novice Joanne . 💛💚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Joanne, I’m so glad you found it encouraging! Was hoping someone would 🙂 Its easy to get a bit discouraged I know, but its great you’re getting stuck back into it! Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great tips about Watercolour blooms Debi, especially the ones about not worrying about them, and how they can make a piece of art more interesting! I used to be terrible at trying to get everything just right, it’s taken years of practice to realise that most forms of art are often more exciting when mistakes and things such as blooms occur 🙂

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  5. One great exponent is Kurt Jackson, In a book of watercolours he published around 1999 there was one painting where he used blooms to create cloud formations. It was very effective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks Graham for sharing that! Kurt has a ‘messy, natural’ look that invigorates the painting.
      the more we share those types of artists with others the better, thanks!!


  6. I just tried to find a bibliography but didn’t have much luck. I thought that it was published in 1997, but could have been 1999 – certainly before 2000. The only book I can find that meets this criteria is Paintings of Cornwall and the Scillies and looking at a few plates of that it could have been the one. The paintings were almost all watercolours.
    A few years ago I got off the train at Penzance station and they had paintings from the book in very large posters displayed high up all around the station. It was very pleasing to see contemporary work so publically displayed – particularly as they were reproductions and not advertising anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Robin, thank you very much for such a wonderful comment, I appreciate it! I’m glad you found the post useful 🙂 Cheers, Debi


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