Two small watercolor paintings of leaves layered over each other.

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  1. I’m a total newbie and bought myself a good quality student grade set. After following tons of tutorials, I didn’t manage to get results I expected and I was really frustrated. Then I bought a pan of artist grade color to try it… well I suddenly bought an entire set of artist paint… color behaves in a total different way, it blend better, it’s more manageable and my frustrations suddenly disappeared. I’m still nit good at watercolors but I’m finally doing progresses . Thanks to decent paper (50% cotton) and artist grade paint.

    1. You’re 100% right! Don’t get me wrong, cheap paints can be a great jumping-off point, but the pigment behaves very differently when you get higher-grade stuff. And paper makes ALL the difference! I’m so glad to hear that you’re not frustrated with your practice — that’s the sweet spot where you can keep pushing and trying and experimenting. Happy painting, Paul!

  2. For the last few weeks, I have been thinking that I want to start a new hobby. I used to love painting as a kid, so
    I think that it could be a fun new hobby to pick up! I love the idea of watercolor painting. Thank you so much for pointing out that you should not use the water used to change color as the water to dilute the paint because it will muddy your colors. I will have to follow your tips and look into online watercolor painting courses that could give me additional pointers!

    1. It’s so great that you’re getting back into painting! We are so good at making art as kids, so getting back to these roots can be so fun and uplifting. I’m thrilled you found the tips helpful, Greta, and I can’t wait to see what cool art you make as you jump back into painting 🙂

  3. Thank you so very much for this article. I have been practicing the art of watercoloring now for over 6 months and i feel as though i am never going to get that breakthru where i feel as though ive actually created a good looking painting. Maybe i am rushing my way thru because ive watched so many professionals in their tutorials and because they know exactly what theyre doing they are permitted to work quickly. The main problem i find with myself is that each painting or part therof seemd to be muddied and splotchy without depth at all. I consider myself semi decent at using pencils in drawing virtually anything although i am not gifted enough to develop anything muvh from my own imagination and need to copy oretty much everything. I can make things larger or smaller etc with ease. I have never had as much trouble with tryi g to teach myself any sort of art form as with watercolor.
    I dont want to give up but i feel as though i am getting frustrated. I am guilty of using cheap paper over the past week. I need to buy some cansom i think you suggested. That should help a little. Another of my problems and i have many is my lack of leaving white space. I do this every time as though i have the need to cover every part of the paper.
    I have eagerly tried wet on wet…dry you name it. I keep thinking of thr old age adage that practice makes perfect. I would just settle for a halfway decent shot at things looking good let alone perfection!! Are there any free tutorials that you could suggest for me to visit. Money is tight unfortunately otherwise i would absolutely love to take an in oerson class at the local college. Its been years since i treated myself to a black and white and pen and ink class and after takinh that i saw my skills improve immensely as did my overall self confidence in my artistic abilities. Well sorry about this virtual essay. I had a lot to get off my chest. Thank you for anything you are ablr to suggest after sifting thru my troubles.

    1. Hey Marilyn! I appreciate your questions, and I totally understand getting frustrated. Looking at the pros working, especially with timelapses, can make it harder when you get started. The truth of watercolor is that it is slow, wild, and not always easy to control. All the professionals have gone through the same frustration you are experiencing, so don’t lose hope!

      First off, I would definitely suggest getting better paper. You won’t be able to build depth and layers on cheap paper as it will buckle and look blotchy. Better paper, even just the Canson Multimedia sketchbook, will help you tremendously.

      Secondly, it’s hard to achieve depth and with watercolors unless you are using multiple layers. Another mistake that I didn’t mention in this article is trying to get away with thick, dark layers of paint to achieve depth and contrast. While it takes more time, it is much better to add many thin layers to slowly darken certain areas because it gives a more rich color when finished.

      And third, I don’t have a lot of tutorials to share with you per se, but I know of several Youtubers with many videos full of advice that I have found helpful. I’ll link some specific videos from each to get you started.

      There is PearFleur ( ( and Kelogsloops ( ( to get you started. I also have a tutorial for painting watercolor galaxies, which is really fun and easy (

      If you take it slow, try working on some basic techniques like creating gradients or building layers, and allow yourself to make some crappy work, you’ll start to get the hang of watercolors. Don’t focus too much on creating full paintings with a subject and a background for now — just try working with a 3″x3″ square and try one thing at a time, testing it all out. You’ll get there, Marilyn!

  4. Noela White says:

    Hi, just found u on Pinterest & as a mature beginner with watercolour I found the ‘ common mistakes ‘ a great read. I have no idea how I can follow yr advice & keep learning from u. Please advise. Regards Noela

    1. Hi Noela,

      The best way to follow my content is to subscribe to my email list by clicking the “Click Here” button at the top of the page.

  5. Hi, great article, very helpful for beginners. watercolor medium is not so easy. Thank you so much for your advise.

  6. Marie Lotoski says:

    Hi there, I appreciate this article. I have worked with acrylic paints for years and just started with water colours. Would the same mistakes apply if I am using water colour pencils?
    Thanks for your help

    1. Generally, yes! These watercolor mistakes are common for anyone working in the medium. Watercolor pencils wouldn’t have the same issue with muddying, but it should still be prevented as much as possible. And the pace at which you work will also differ, so you would need to find the right pace for you. I hope that helps!

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