Four Beginner Watercolor Painting Tips

Here are four amazing beginner watercolor tips that show you how you can learn from a sponge!

The sponge can teach us many lessons about watercolor painting. In this tutorial I will cover four ideas on how a sponge can help you understand exactly how watercolor painting works.

Below is a video demonstration where I show you how each tip works. And here’s a spoiler alert. It all comes down to how well you understand and manage water. This is an important lesson for beginners because it really sums up the challenges you face when dealing with wet brushes and paper.

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Here's a list of what you will learn from a sponge.

  • A dry sponge doesn't work well and you will soon see what that means for your watercolor paintings.
  • A damp sponge works perfectly and the same idea applies to your paper and brushes.
  • Your watercolor brush should be treated like a sponge.
  • And finally, watercolor paper is like a sponge as well and works the same exact way.

Here is a breakdown of what you can learn from a sponge.

Let’s recap the video and determine how this will add to your arsenal of beginner watercolor techniques.

Why a dry sponge doesn’t work? – Because it doesn’t attract the water and instead will push it around. When a sponge is 100% dry it isn’t ready to absorb moisture, and instead it will push the water around the surface. Yes, it will absorb some but not nearly as much as if it was damp.

Why a damp sponge works better – Because it will start to pull moisture, or water, from the surface. If it’s wet it is ready to extract.

What happens when a sponge becomes too wet? If a sponge becomes wetter then what it’s extracting, or completely saturated, then it no longer works. In order to regain its absorbing power you must remove the excess moisture.

How a brush works similar to a sponge – Your brush will not absorb paint, or moisture, that well when it’s dry. You can dab a dry brush into paint but the belly, or bristles, aren’t loaded with pigment. And when a dry brush contacts dry paper you get a rough stroke. Basically you would need to use a forceful stroke, or pressure into the surface, to create a mark.

However, when the brush is wet, or damp, it accepts the paint much better, like a damp sponge. And as you apply this to your paper the pigment will release into the paper much better.

Your paper works like a sponge, too – Paper works very similar as the previous examples. The main thing you need to know is when the paper becomes too wet, or wetter than the brush, the brush will actually extract the pigment and water. So, the water will actually run uphill towards the bristles.

When the paper is drier than the brush it will receive water and pigment. So, it will extract the water and paint from the brush.

Four ways a sponge can teach you about watercolor painting

Give it a try!

It’s a good idea to experiment with this knowledge as demonstrated in the video. Once you understand this concept you will have a better idea of how your brushes and paper work like a sponge.

And more importantly you will understand how water travels when dealing with the three sponges which are the sponge itself, the brush, and the paper.

I hope that these free beginner watercolor tips help you improve your watercolor painting(s). If you enjoyed the article please be sure to share it on your favorite social media channels.

Thanks for visiting Watercolor Hub and hope you stick around and discover more fantastic tips. I have a lot are beginner watercolor painting tips on this website.

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