Watercolor Basics

Watercolor Beginners Basic Tips

Discover creative and inspiring ideas, watercolor techniques and solutions to unsolved Beginner watercolor painting problems, questions and dilemmas.

If you love watercolor, love the excitement of art, love the versatility inherent within watercolors  sit down and fill your  creative well!




Watercolor Tips –  Limit Your Materials

Absolute beginners get started with Just 3 paints, 1 brush and 1 sheet of paper! 

  • Cobalt blue pb28,   Winsor Lemon py175,   Permanent Rose v19
  • 1 Watercolour brush:  Rekab 320s #2  natural squirrel hair brush
  • Watercolour paper:  Arches Rough or Cold Press 300 gsm  100%  cotton rag.


watercolour mixing chart, limited palette, colour Mix recipes, debiriley.com
Watercolour Chart: 3 Tube Mixes on Arches


+a fantastic section  with half a dozen   art supply shops located online and with retail addresses,  in the USA and Australia with their links



cobalt watercolour flowers debiriley.com
Cobalt Watercolour Flowers debiriley.com




Watercolour Techniques: Fast and Fun

cobalt teal blue pg50, reflections, landscapes, watercolor tips, beginners guide, debiriley.com
Reflections, detail

The Basic  watercolour techniques include:  wet in wet, dry brush, glazing, charging, flat wash, graded wash, splatter.




Watercolor Color and Mixing Tips 

Beginners  – learn how to create the 3 areas of the painting…..  background – the middleground and the foreground.


Aerial Perspective color sequencing:

Warm colors – Advance into the Front

Cooler colors – Recede into the Distance

Front: warm red, orange, yellow, green, blue, blue/lavender and finally the grey into the background.

Placing colors in this sequenced order helps beginners easily create more depth in their paintings.




Color Mixing  Tips  –   beginners

  • Did you know that mixing Opaque paints with other colors, can often cause of Mud?
fall foliage watercolours landscape debiriley.com
Fall Foliage watercolour Stainers


Creative  Imaginative  Techniques

Glad wrap,   palette knife,  molding  paste, impasto,  skewers, cold wax medium, using house paint brushes….   make watercolor  more Creative!


Frequently   Asked   Questions

1.Can gesso be used with watercolors?      Yes! Used as a thin veil, a light glaze over dry paint, it makes a wonderful camouflage for areas that you’d like disguised.

2.What mixes with prussian blue for foliage greens?     I suggest burnt sienna, quinacridone sienna, winsor lemon, burnt umber and raw umber to start with.

3.Do I paint my backgrounds first?      Yes. First Backgrounds, then middlegrounds, then foreground and last is the focal point. *Exception is if doing botanical art on White paper.

4.What are some examples of Granulating paints?     Granulators when diluted with water  create texture, suitable for beaches, rocks, bark,etc.  Ultramarine, Cobalt Violet, Cerulean, Viridian, Rose Madder genuine,  Lunar Black, Burnt Umber.

5.What paint should Beginners start with?    Cobalt blue genuine,  Permanent Rose, Winsor Lemon.  Then moving onto Ultramarine blue and Burnt Sienna.  After that,  Prussian Blue and Raw Sienna/Quinacridone Gold.

6.What is the best blue for a sky?   It depends on the season and the type of sky; but generally I’d say Cobalt blue genuine.Cerulean, great for wintery cold skies.


7.Where can I find your work for sale Debi?  


debiriley.com Society 6 paintings sale
In Love, watercolor painting Society6

My art images, products…..

canvas prints,  cards,  hand bags, ipad covers, pillows and more  are now available at  Society 6 debiriley.    And now at debijriley Redbubble.com !


24 thoughts on “Watercolor Basics

      1. thank you so kindly for such a lovely comment!! I Appreciate your stopping by, having a look around and your thoughts.
        🙂 cheers, Debi


    1. hi Yva, Thank You so much! I’m glad you enjoyed the page and found some helpful tidbits!!
      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your comments, I appreciate it! Cheers – Debi


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this information! I started learning to draw about a year ago, and I’m now learning watercolor painting — and other media. It’s an exciting journey, and this page will help me immensely.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Jonathan, I’m glad that you’re finding the Page helpful to you !! I love watercolor (ok, art in general ) and I’m sure your adventure with it will be great fun ++ exciting 🙂
      Thank you for your comment! cheers, Debi


      1. Actually, I’m not Jonathan. He’s just a fictional character from my Sims 4 game. I’m really Judith, and I’d love for you to visit “artistcoveries” — it’s the blog where I’m sharing my journey of becoming an artist. Following your blog will be very inspiring, and I hope from time to time you’ll visit mine and share a few thoughts. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know how to make my “Gravatar” link to my art blog instead of the “Sims” blog, so you’re not the first to call me Jonathan…LOL. I’m very glad I’ve found your blog and can’t wait to read more of your posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Watercoloring can seem so…messy. Easy to wreck, was how I used to see it. You’ve explained it to be easy well. Will save your tips for the next watercolor artwork. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Watercolor the way I paint… is absolutely messy. True!! messy but so fun, lol. I’m am so glad you are finding these bits and pieces on the website helpful/useful. I think the real key is to just limit the palette to 2-3 colors to start, then progress on to More! Thank you for your lovely comments 🙂 cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

    1. hi Maria, its great to know you enjoyed this information and its helpful to you! Thank you – for taking the time to send your thoughtful comment! I appreciate it. Cheers, Debi

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve always had the impression that water colours paintings are far more difficult than using other mediums


  4. Do you have books? I just saw your artwork on this debiriley.com page I would like to have more info from you I love what you do. I’m just getting into watercolors .


    1. thanks!! I’m working on an ebook; I have a 150 page workbook file. Its this, that I’m converting. It is going, slowly.
      I appreciate your encouragement and inquiry! thanks, and cheers, Debi


  5. Just wanted to say thank you. I read your articles of watercolor basic when I learned watercolour. The rules were always in my mind.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: