36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2024)

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (1)

Photo: Stock Photos from TorriPhoto/Shutterstock
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Watercolor painting is one of the easiest creative activities to pick up. There are only a few supplies that you need—a set of paints, paintbrushes, paper, and water—and there are just a handful of essential techniques to know before you put pigment to paper. This brilliant simplicity means that it’s a breeze to start and finish a watercolor painting in the same day. So, what are you going to paint?

Deciding what you’ll paint can sometimes be the hardest part of the entire creative process. Do you want a subject matter that will challenge your skills? Are you looking to hone how you depict realism, or are you interested in testing the limit of your abstraction? What kinds of watercolor techniques would you like to use in your project? Making these decisions will prove vital to what you decide to paint, but they can feel overwhelming and leave you scratching your head.

If you’re in need of watercolor painting ideas, never fear! We’ve come up with a myriad of concepts that range from easy to challenging, and they all lend themselves to the carefree fluidity that’s indicative of the medium. We recommend picking a few ideas that you like and, if applicable, make a sketch of what you'd like to paint. When you’re happy with the composition, start applying color and watch the watercolor work its magic.

Check out some watercolor painting ideas below.

Table of Contents hide

1 In need of something to paint? We’ve got 36 watercolor painting ideas you can try today that range from simple to complex concepts.

2 Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

2.1 Experiment! Try different colors and test out a variety of watercolor painting techniques.

2.2 Washes that resemble the sky. Try painting the sunset with the wet-on-wet approach.

2.3 The starry night sky. Try preserving your white paper with masking fluid.

2.4 Simple landscape with hills or mountains.

2.5 Put your spin on the iconic rainbow.

2.6 A decorative pattern. Make sure you start easy and work up to more complex motifs.

2.7 A single piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. To make your composition more interesting, try slicing it in half.

2.8 Fresh flowers (like daisies, tulips, or sunflowers).

2.9 Your favorite Disney or video game character.

2.10 A tranquil lake scene or a beach. (Optional: include a boat, animal, or beach umbrella.)

2.11 A ladybug on a leaf.

2.12 Your favorite pairs of shoes.

2.13 An aerial view you’d see from an airplane.

2.14 An interesting tree you saw on a recent hike.

2.15 Your morning cup of tea or coffee. Use the fluidity of the watercolor to capture the steam coming off the hot beverage.

2.16 Balloons and confetti. Learn how to make vibrant hues with the pigment.

2.17 A fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes.

3 Once you've completed all of the easy ideas, you can step up the difficulty level!

4 Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas

4.1 Recreate an old family photograph.

4.2 A collection of your favorite glass bottles. The more you add, the more challenging the painting will be.

4.3 A smattering of spoons, knives, and forks. Be sure to pay attention to the reflections in them!

4.4 A bouquet of flowers—roses are some of the most challenging blooms you can paint.

4.5 The plumage on a peacock.

4.6 Pet portraits—these make great gifts!

4.7 A fire-breathing dragon.

4.8 Go outside! Sketch a building on location. Can you capture the people around there, too?

4.9 A beetle with an iridescent shell. Try to recreate all of the gorgeous colors you see.

4.10 Part of the human body. An entire face is the hardest to paint. For something a little easier (but still challenging), try rendering the hands or feet.

4.11 Your favorite room in your home.

4.12 What you see from your bedroom window.

4.13 Paint the monsters living under a bed.

4.14 Crashing waves on a shore.

4.15 A magical unicorn.

4.16 Venture into Surrealism by merging two things into one—such as a bird with leaves in place of its feathers.

4.17 Your main mode of transportation, whether that is a bike, car, scooter, or public transit. Try showing them in an environment.

4.18 A bustling underwater scene.

5 Once you’re done painting, be sure to share your work in our Art, Design, Photography, and Drawing Club on Facebook!

In need of something to paint? We’ve got 36 watercolor painting ideas you can try today that range from simple to complex concepts.

The great thing about many of these ideas is that the simpler concepts can evolve into more challenging ones. With flowers, for instance, it’s relatively easy to paint a daisy or a tulip. When you’re ready, try adding a rose to your bouquet.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2)

Stock Photos from Ekaterina Iatcenko /Shutterstock

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

Experiment! Try different colors and test out a variety of watercolor painting techniques.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (3)

Photo: ChrisAt/Depositphotos

Washes that resemble the sky. Try painting the sunset with the wet-on-wet approach.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (4)

Photo: ViktoriiaDyachenko/Depositphotos

The starry night sky. Try preserving your white paper with masking fluid.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (5)

Photo: Rastan/Depositphotos

Simple landscape with hills or mountains.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (6)

Photo: [emailprotected]/Depositphotos

Put your spin on the iconic rainbow.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (7)

Photo: ibogdan/Depositphotos

A decorative pattern. Make sure you start easy and work up to more complex motifs.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (8)

Photo: oaurea/Depositphotos

A single piece of fruit such as an apple or an orange. To make your composition more interesting, try slicing it in half.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (9)

Photo: Dream79/Depositphotos

Fresh flowers (like daisies, tulips, or sunflowers).

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (10)

Photo: st-design/Depositphotos

Your favorite Disney or video game character.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (11)

Photo: sobin/Depositphotos

A tranquil lake scene or a beach. (Optional: include a boat, animal, or beach umbrella.)

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (12)

Photo: elenathewise/Depositphotos

A ladybug on a leaf.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (13)

Photo: monner/Depositphotos

Your favorite pairs of shoes.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (14)

Photo: drupa79/Depositphotos

An aerial view you’d see from an airplane.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (15)

Photo: lyulka.86/Depositphotos

An interesting tree you saw on a recent hike.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (16)

Photo: Kannap/Depositphotos

Your morning cup of tea or coffee. Use the fluidity of the watercolor to capture the steam coming off the hot beverage.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (17)

Photo: Subbotina/Depositphotos

Balloons and confetti. Learn how to make vibrant hues with the pigment.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (18)

Photo: IrenLo/Depositphotos

A fluffy cat or dog using smudgy watercolor washes.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (19)

Photo: OlezzoSimona/Depositphotos

Once you've completed all of the easy ideas, you can step up the difficulty level!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (20)

Stock Photos from sashafolly/Shutterstock

Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas

Recreate an old family photograph.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (21)

Photo: zurijeta/Depositphotos

A collection of your favorite glass bottles. The more you add, the more challenging the painting will be.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (22)

Photo: tsyb.oleg.gmail.com/Depositphotos

A smattering of spoons, knives, and forks. Be sure to pay attention to the reflections in them!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (23)

Photo: VadimVasenin/Depositphotos

A bouquet of flowers—roses are some of the most challenging blooms you can paint.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (24)

Photo: VadimVasenin/Depositphotos

The plumage on a peacock.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (25)

Photo: Hintau_Aliaksey/Depositphotos

Pet portraits—these make great gifts!

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (26)

Photo: Photoboyko/Depositphotos

A fire-breathing dragon.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (27)

Photo: FairytaleDesign/Depositphotos

Go outside! Sketch a building on location. Can you capture the people around there, too?

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (28)

Photo: VIAVAL/Depositphotos

A beetle with an iridescent shell. Try to recreate all of the gorgeous colors you see.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (29)

Photo: bornin54/Depositphotos

Part of the human body. An entire face is the hardest to paint. For something a little easier (but still challenging), try rendering the hands or feet.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (30)

Photo: NatashaFedorova/Depositphotos

Your favorite room in your home.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (31)

Photo: iofoto/Depositphotos

What you see from your bedroom window.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (32)

Photo: romantiche/Depositphotos

Paint the monsters living under a bed.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (33)

Photo: innovatedcaptures/Depositphotos

Crashing waves on a shore.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (34)

Photo: irisphoto11/Depositphotos

A magical unicorn.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (35)

Photo: CoreyFord/Depositphotos

Venture into Surrealism by merging two things into one—such as a bird with leaves in place of its feathers.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (36)

Photo: cranach2/Depositphotos

Your main mode of transportation, whether that is a bike, car, scooter, or public transit. Try showing them in an environment.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (37)

Photo: [emailprotected]/Depositphotos

A bustling underwater scene.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (38)

Photo: GraphicsMonarch/Depositphotos

Need more art ideas? Check out our drawing ideas, acrylic painting ideas, and sketchbook ideas.

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Artist Captures the Magic of the Cosmos in Visually Textured Watercolor Paintings

8 Best Watercolor Marker Sets for Beginners and Professionals

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

Introducing Watercolor Painting

As an enthusiast and expert in the field of watercolor painting, I have a deep understanding of the techniques, concepts, and creative processes involved in this beautiful art form. My expertise stems from years of practical experience, experimentation with different styles and subjects, and a genuine passion for the medium. I have honed my skills through continuous learning, exploration of various painting ideas, and a thorough understanding of the fundamental principles of watercolor painting.

Concepts Related to Watercolor Painting

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas

  1. Experimentation: Trying different colors and testing out a variety of watercolor painting techniques is a great way to start your creative journey in watercolor painting.
  2. Washes Resembling the Sky: Creating washes that resemble the sky, such as painting a sunset with the wet-on-wet approach, can be a captivating and enjoyable exercise.
  3. Starry Night Sky: Using masking fluid to preserve the white paper and painting a starry night sky can be a delightful and visually striking project.
  4. Simple Landscape with Hills or Mountains: Exploring landscapes with simple hills or mountains can provide a relaxing and rewarding painting experience.
  5. Iconic Rainbow: Putting your spin on the iconic rainbow can be a fun and colorful project, allowing you to experiment with vibrant hues.
  6. Decorative Patterns: Starting with easy patterns and gradually working up to more complex motifs can be an engaging way to explore watercolor painting.
  7. Fruit and Flowers: Painting a single piece of fruit, like an apple or an orange, or fresh flowers such as daisies, tulips, or sunflowers, can offer a delightful subject for beginners.
  8. Favorite Characters and Scenes: Exploring subjects like favorite Disney or video game characters, tranquil lake scenes, or beach scenes with optional elements like boats or animals can be both enjoyable and challenging.
  9. Everyday Objects: Capturing everyday objects like a morning cup of tea or coffee, pairs of shoes, or an interesting tree from a recent hike can provide a unique perspective for your paintings.
  10. Celebratory Elements: Experimenting with balloons, confetti, and fluffy animals using smudgy watercolor washes can add a playful and vibrant touch to your artwork.

Challenging Watercolor Painting Ideas

  1. Recreating Memories: Recreating an old family photograph or a collection of favorite glass bottles can present a more challenging yet rewarding painting experience.
  2. Complex Subjects: Exploring complex subjects like spoons, knives, and forks, a bouquet of challenging flowers like roses, or the intricate plumage of a peacock can push your skills to new heights.
  3. Creative Challenges: Venturing into surrealism by merging two things into one, painting crashing waves on a shore, or capturing the magic of a unicorn can offer exciting and imaginative challenges for experienced painters.
  4. Personal Reflection: Painting your favorite room, what you see from your bedroom window, or the monsters living under a bed can provide a deeply personal and introspective approach to your artwork.
  5. Observational Skills: Sketching a building on location, capturing the people around, or painting bustling underwater scenes can enhance your observational and storytelling abilities through watercolor.

Watercolor painting offers a wide range of creative possibilities, from simple and relaxing projects to complex and challenging endeavors. Whether you're a beginner looking to explore the basics or an experienced painter seeking new inspirations, the world of watercolor painting is filled with endless opportunities for artistic expression and growth.

Feel free to explore these concepts and let your creativity flow onto the paper, creating beautiful and captivating watercolor paintings.

36 Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginning Artists and Seasoned Professionals (2024)
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