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, debiriley.com
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, debiriley.com
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, debiriley.com
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, debiriley.com
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…..so 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, debiriley.com
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.’