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

Responses: 59

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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?

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!
—annilina

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

How Much Water to Use

Having fairly recently started to paint with watercolours I find I am loving it! I started using watercolour pencils and they gave a great introduction to the medium. Moved on then to pans and found them great to bring away on trips. Now using tubes and and loving them. Knowing how much water to use is difficult I find, but when a painting works out the satisfaction is wonderful.
—mcbab

Front-to-Back

One of the most difficult transitions from oils and acrylics to watercolors is the difference between painting from dark to light in oils versus watercolors where you paint from light to dark. Also watercolors use more negative painting (areas around the object shapes), which is found less in oils and acrylics.
—Guest The Sculptors Studio

The Most Difficut Thing to Learn In...

...watercolor is to be bold and brave. Have fun! Enjoy it! It`s just a piece of paper...
—Guest ortiz

Wet vs Dry Colors

When the painting is wet the colors are not the same as when the painting is dry.... I find I like the piece once its dry, completely, and I did get the details in it and the blending and shadowing all come together. And it's different than what it started out to be. It's not an exact medium it's unpredictable and I love that.
—debbyjunez

Water Color Hard Ones

Leaving enough white. Tinted washers, water runs from the top to bottom on the page. Seeing too much and having to cut down what I paint.
—Guest Carl Bailey

Not Turning Your Work into Gouache

I think the most difficult thing is not to turn your work into gouache, and so to lose transparency, limpidness and lightness! It is very difficult to paint with no white at all. It is a medium which demands... cleverness, astuteness and anticipation. Each hint of colour is a challenge I find. I prefer the oil medium...
—yover

Ugh, Don't Over-Think

I've been painting in watercolor on and off for 12 years, it can be very painful sometimes. Like other people have said, find your whites and dive in fast before you over-think it. Have fun and remember there is a lot of paper out there.
—Guest Justin Long

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