Watercolor Prep Tips

I get a lot of questions about materials and prep, so today I’m going to detail my top 3 watercolor prep tips. Before you even get started, there are a few things you can do to save yourself time (and money) and to end up with a better finished product. These are things I’ve figured out over a long time, and I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way. There's nothing more frustrating than having a plan in your head and not being able to execute it the way you want. Learn from my mistakes and take this advice:

  1. Use good paper. If you're working with watercolors, you need watercolor paper! There are all types and price ranges out there. My favorites are Canson XL Cold Press 140 lb. and Strathmore Watercolor Paper 300 Series 140 lb. The pounds are just the weight of 500 sheets- the higher the lbs., the heavier (and generally thicker) the paper. The more water you use in your process, the thicker the paper you'll need to prevent buckling. Sometimes artists will tape or staple their paper down to a Polystyrene Board, but I wouldn't go to these extremes yet until you know your own painting process better.Underdrawing/Sketch
  2. Do an under drawing. You might want to jump right in, but I promise it will look best if you do a light drawing with pencil to make yourself a plan. I use a regular old pencil, but many artists will use a red colored pencil (still drawing very lightly!) and that seems to work for them. It depends if you want your drawing to be hidden, and it turns out, it doesn't really bother me!
  3. Leave some white. This goes along with tip #2. Make note within your sketch of where will be your lightest or completely white spots. Although there are white watercolors and gouache out there, your painting will look more stunning and impactful if you leave the white of the paper.

Implement those three tips, and you're off to a great start! What are your questions? Let me know in the comments!