Three ways to get started in watercolour

Pen drawing created following Mark Linley's advice in 'How to Draw Anything', coloured with watercolour

I have something of  a love-hate relationship with watercolour. I have owned a set of watercolours for over 10 years. Mostly they encouraged me to buy more books on how to paint with watercolours, but actually using them has been the hard part. They are daunting. Sounds so simple. Just add water. In fact it is the water that is both the charm and the vice here. It is because of the water that the colours blend and pool the way they do.  It is because of the water that control of the colour is so elusive. I have a few suggestions if you are thinking of dipping your toes in the water...colour... so to speak.... The first is to let go of trying to control the watercolour and just playing for a while, figuring out what the water and paint will do together. In fact, there is an entire online class I found that is based on this premise. It's by Michelle Brown and it is called 'Loosen Up'.  So obviously when I heard about it, I knew she was talking to me.

Watercolour painting created in Martha Lever's online class

The second is to let go of the idea of trying to produce something like the classic chocolate box landscape or seascape entirely in watercolour and use it more simply, as a colouring medium. Start with a permanent pen (i.e not water soluble) line drawing and then use the watercolour to fill it in like an illustrator might. Thirdly, keep it simple. Try painting a single subject with no background, like a flower or a pear. I took Martha Lever's Color Drop Flower class. In fact it was the first time I actually used my watercolour set in 10 years. Martha makes it all seem quite approachable. Watercolour is actually quite glorious. But it takes faith in the medium and quite a bit of patience to find this glory.