If you’ve experimented with watercolor paints and learned basic watercolor techniques, you know they are a versatile and expressive medium. But now that you’ve got some watercolor experience under your belt, what do you actually paint? Don’t worry — there are plenty of watercolor painting ideas that’ll make you want to put your brush to paper.
Ready to get painting? Here are 7 watercolor painting ideas for beginning to advanced painters.
The translucent nature of flowers make them a great subject for watercolor painting because watercolor paints allow you to start out very light and build in shades and shadows as you go along. Watercolors are also very fluid. If you work at it, you can achieve a smooth texture that closely mimics the texture of flower petals. Plus, who doesn’t love flowers?
Whether you want to make try plein air painting or sit down and paint a complex, layered landscape, watercolors are the perfect medium for the job! Take advantage of the light properties of watercolor paints to create skies, clouds, water and snow.
Landscapes are a good subject for beginners, too. You don’t have to be totally precise with shapes and lines. Landscapes also help you get the idea of layering washes cemented in your brain! Want to give it a try? Start with this step-by-step landscape painting tutorial.
Watercolor paints by nature have a fresh quality to them, especially if you leave some white space here and there for highlights. That makes painting fruit with watercolors ideal. Fruits also have simple shapes, which allows you to practice creating highlights and shadows in a simple, straight-forward way. The light and shadows are all contained within one shape.
Beginning painters can set up a fruit still life, using the contents of your fruit bowl at home. More advanced painters can paint from nature photos, incorporating leaves and backgrounds.
It takes a little practice, but you can achieve many textures with watercolor paints. You can create soft, fuzzy strokes for fur; sweeping strokes for feathers; and splotches of paint for scales. The possibilities are endless here. Paint your favorite animals, birds or insects using your arsenal of textures and even create a few new textures as you go.
Although complex, buildings are good subjects to paint with watercolors because they allow you to convey the textures of wood, stone and brick with simple strokes. The clean, even lines of buildings also create an amazing contrast against messy organic shapes of the landscapes that surround them.
6. Still life
Objects made with glass or porcelain are good subjects for still life paintings because they reflect light or let light shine through. Watercolor paints are excellent at portraying light, so play with reflections and have fun! Before you get started, read about the three essential elements that every watercolor still life should have.
For more advanced watercolorists, I recommend trying your hand at watercolor portraits. They can be challenging, but also very rewarding. The expressive nature of watercolor paints lets you show the personality of your subjects. Get started with portraits in our Portraits in Watercolor class.
Wow With Watercolors!
Learn how to paint your best watercolor works.