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Readers Respond: What is the Most Difficult Thing to Learn in Watercolor?

Responses: 66


What do you think is the hardest thing to learn with watercolor paint? It all seems to be so easy -- just add water to paint, and paint to paper -- but the results soon make it clear watercolor isn't quite as simple as that to master. What is the one thing you think is the most difficult to master with watercolor?

Don't give up

I need someone to tell me when stop when I'm doing watercolor!
—Guest Camille Bodey

What's the most difficult?

My biggest challenge is PATIENCE. My biggest challenge is PATIENCE.
—Guest Sandy

Free Your Energy to Paint Like You!

Stop trying to paint like everyone else. Give yourself persmission to paint in our own style.
—Guest Ann

Dilution of Paint

In watercolour painting, the texture and the quality of the support, the quality of the paints and the brushes used matter. One has to take all the above into consideration when deciding the effect one is aiming for. How the paint will look after drying, is what one learns with practise.

Over-Doing It

I tend to get way to carried away with watercolor, and 90% of the time, my painting never ends up as I planned it to. I'm never happy with what I have, so I end up changing everything, and steering it away form my original plans. I agree with Justin, it's way too easy to over-think it.
—Guest alexb

Dark Passages

Working from light to dark requires a lot of thought, when one is normally an oil or pastel painter and thus working the "other way". This, along with getting the darks dark enough on the first or second application; subsequent washes seem to make these passages look dull and overworked.
—Guest DC

That Ahhhhaaaa Moment

Read all you want , and practice and make mistakes and start over and make some more ...then one day you will have that ahhhhaaaa moment and all those mistakes and ruined expensive paper will be worth it , as you will have taken your first step in the state of grace towards becoming a watercolorist and nothing but pure agony will get you to this state, but when you're there no one can take it away from you....
—Guest Steve Magoo

Muddy Colours and Planning Ahead...

The most difficult thing is to mix colours without getting muddy colours... and also to plan everything ahead because if something goes wrong when you try it, the whole painting can be ruined!

What's Difficult...

Wet into wet. Trying to get a wash to behave as one would like. (And all of the above!)
—Guest heathersdesigns@telkomsa.net

Soft Edges and Hard Edges

It seems one of most difficult techniques for new students to be able to define and object with a hard edge and then to blend the paint away with water to create a soft edge.
—Guest txartist

Impossible to Correct

It's impossible, and unlike oils, is to correct a colour scheme that has gone wrong in watercolour, especially if it is a dark colour.
—Guest odile pereira

Mixing Enough Paint

There's nothing worse than running out of a mixed color before you finish your wash... you can never quite match it, and even if you get close, you will be stuck with the hard edges that form while you mix up more. Live large and always make too much to begin with.
—Guest guestdc

Painting in Reverse

It's difficult to visualize this effect and then render it by painting around it some element in order to reveal its form. This is very watercolour.
—Guest Audley Sue Wing

Drying Lighter

One of hardest things in watercolor, is that it dries lighter than when it's wet, so you have to use more pigment. I almost always put the paint straight onto the paper and let it do its thing. I use more intense colors, like Thalo blue for a sky, and see what it does.
—Guest Anne

Don't Give Up

Even when your painting is not coming together the way you want, don't give up. Try to continue the work . You may find that the painting will come together at the end and will please you more than you thought earlier.
—Guest Dick

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