Watercolour techniques for beginners, easy petal exercise.

To accompany my YouTube video on this subject, I thought it would be helpful to list the process of this beginners watercolour exercise.

Trying out this variety of watercolour techniques will help you get used to working with watercolour and become more familiar with it's properties. Different techniques suit different styles and subjects. Learning which techniques you like best will help you to develop your own style.

The accompanying video is linked at the end of this blog.


1. On a watercolour paper (min 140lb) draw using pencil a very simple flower with 6 petals.
2. Mix three colours, i.e. Permanent Rose, Alizarin crimson and Winsor Violet all the same concentration. Then mix the same three colours with the Rose the weakest concentration, the Alizarin more concentrated and the Violet the thickest concentration.
3. On petal 1 (number and make notes as you go), paint the whole petal in the first mix of Rose. Allow to dry completely. Paint over half the petal with Alizarin and soften the edge with a damp (not too wet!) brush.
4. On petal 2 paint sections of the petal in blocks of colour allowing each to dry before applying the next and avoiding overlapping.
5. On petal 3 paint the whole petal using the first mix of Rose and leave to dry. Add a layer of Alizarin half way up the petal and leave to dry (don't soften the edges). Add Violet one quarter of the way up the petal and leave to dry.
6. On petal 4 wet the whole petal with clear water. Using the second mixes, paint the whole petal Rose whilst the paper is still damp. Don't allow to dry. Add the second mix of Alizarin half way up the petal and then a touch of the thick Violet.
7. On petal 5 add the second mix of Rose to the whole petal. Don't allow to dry. Add the Alizarin half way up and then a touch of the thick violet.
8. On the final petal add clear water to the whole petal then add a colour of your choice to one end and allow it to flow.

Allow the petals to dry and observe how they change as they dry. Make notes on what you liked and didn't like. If you develop "cauliflower" patterns in your petals as I did, this means you used too much water at some stage. Have a few goes altering the paint concentration and volume of water.

YouTube link

The main thing to remember with watercolours is that you need to get to know your own materials. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, it's the only way to learn and improve. The crucial thing is the volume of water used, which is affected by the amount of water your brush can hold and the paper you choose.

Are you new to watercolour? Did you find this video and blog helpful? What other topics would you like me to cover? Please let me know in the comments below. Thank you.


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