Watercolor: Beginners’ Questions Answered

Thru the Gap debiriley.com

Questions.  There are no silly questions. If you’re a watercolor beginner, how will you find out unless you ask?!  Even if you paint in oils or acrylics…. this post may be relevant. So don’t move on just yet!


watercolour mountain, beginners watercolor questions on landscapes, debiriley.com
Watercolour Mountain


Best 5 Art Tips I Can Suggest

As a creative arts teacher, I’m primarily focused on the individual’s own unique Voice and self expression being allowed to come out –

I’d like an art world where students, beginners, artists feel truly Free,   to sing their own songs.  I would love to hear those songs.


  1. Real Life.  Start painting from a real, touchable, house hold, outdoor object. Postpone the photos, postcards, books,video copies, magazines, etc.   Nothing….. can replace real life for making serious quantum leaps ahead in your art skill development.
  2. Artist paper and paints. Buy less things,  and  get better, more en-Couraging results.
  3. Less is More. no fiddling. count your brushstrokes. limit your palette. say more with less.
  4. Hunt for evidence of your own progress. No need to compare self to Monet, Charles Reid, or someone else…. they’ve simply painted LONGER than you!
  5. Paint what you know, love, and have a deep abiding connection with. It is that connection that makes us, the viewers,  fall in love with your painting. It isn’t how perfect the work is….  Its how you made us Feel!


watercolor trees, beginner landscapes, debiriley.com
I Love Trees



Painting Questions I’ve Been Asked Recently


How to mix nice greys in watercolors?

Easiest way is ultramarine and burnt sienna.   Remembering to mix opposites to create lovely greys with contrast and variations is a great method.  (blue/orange;  red/green; yellow/purple.)  I always avoid paynes grey, neutral tint as they’ve ruined my paintings too many times with mud, with deadness and flatness.


Can cerulean be used in the landscape?

Absolutely!  Perfect for the horizon’s palest blue.  Also wonderful for mixing foliage greenery.  I also use it for rivers, lakes on occasion.

How can tree trunks and branches be refined,  made less chunky?

You could use a rigger brush, it works like a charm. Or what I suggest to many beginners, as it is Cheaper… is to use a skewer tip to draw into the damp paint to create the finer branches, this is so much fun.

What greens to use for foliage in the landscape?

Aerial Perspective.  That is crucial.  Warm greens in the foreground, cooler in the midground and much cooler into the background.   ie  olive, then yellow green,  grass green, green blue, blue green, grey green.  And,  mix and create your own.

Can I copy that?

You could; but if the question is do I recommend it… no.  A long list of  reasons would ensue to explain properly. But between infringing on someone else’s copyright and infringing upon and lessening your own creativity, I’d not recommend copying.




watercolour landscape trees, with texture, debiriley.com
Wonderful Trees and Texture!


Useful places to go for further art basics and watercolor information:

No Fiddling Watercolours,

Watercolour Materials, where to purchase

Watercolor secrets and risks,

Watercolour the detours,

Hidden artist,

Watercolour textures,

Watercolour Tips.




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

35 thoughts on “Watercolor: Beginners’ Questions Answered

  1. Can’t wait to click on all the links! Good Morning Debi! Thank you! I wonder if everyone feels like me and that this was written just for them! 🙂 Oh your paintings!!!! Glee! Gasp! Wowza!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. you most likely have, as a regular, have read these Jodi! but…. never hurts to do some quick review ? sometimes I do write with a person in mind Jodi 🙂 though, this time was to answer questions I’d gotten.

      Liked by 3 people

    1. Sharon, it is my pleasure of course to share, and thank you for a lovely compliment! With the outstanding artwork you do, I know you’re 50 levels Beyond a beginners tips post, so I do appreciate your really kind words 🙂 cheers!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Debi, thank you, I would say we are students and teachers throughout our life. It keeps me grounded to be a student and gives me great joy to pass on what I’ve learned to others. Your lessons and personal experience provides a wonderful balance to any artist. Have a great day.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. hello Mary! now I really can’t say that you, fit into the “beginners” category as your paintings and drawings have such heartfelt connection and pull to them, they’re amazing. I will say thank most kindly, for your generous comments Mary!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great to see Sharon, Mary, and Jodi commenting on your contributions, Debi! This is a hot spot! 🙂 Thanks so much for your art and teaching! Take care. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Fabio, it is wonderful, that these lovely, talented ladies are finding some interesting bits and pieces in the posts! And its very kind of you, to comment as well. Thank you!! cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wonderful and beautiful examples and good descriptions, Debi. It’s true, less is sometimes more, though I’m a person that always wants to decorate everything. Kind regards Mitza

    Liked by 1 person

      1. hehe, wish I had the choice to say: no, today I don’t bike, but my legs will hurt then and it makes me very nervous. But having to bike every day makes me nervous, too. There’s no solution to this problem, must wait till I come to the nursing home, hehe

        Liked by 1 person

      2. yes, but I don’t have any space in our flat, but maybe I’ll buy one for the cellar. But on the other hand, I’m scarcely sick. You cannot dance with one rear end on two weddings, as we say here, and I can only put it on a saddle, hehe

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fantastic tips Debi, especially No 2, which I know I would be guilty of if I was really into painting – the most important thing is to get out there and paint, not to choose the exact right brush for every possible eventuality! I’ve learnt that with photography, it’s amazing what you can do with just one lens, the most important thing is to be out there taking photos! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh my, thanks for that! I struggle with wanting …. a new camera 🙂 a full frame vs my old, canon 600d but, it is as you say Get Out There and take the shots, put in the hours. Good Advice.

      Liked by 1 person

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