43 Simple Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners for 2024 (2024)

Looking to get inspired with fun watercolor painting ideas? Maybe you’ve always wanted to paint with watercolors, but you’ve been hesitant to give it a try. It can seem like a challenging medium to work in.

Would it help you to know there are a ton of simple watercolor painting ideas to get you started? And that painting in watercolors is easier than painting in oils or acrylics? It’s true!

Results of a Hofstra University study confirm that "active engagement in specific art media," including watercolor painting, "reduced state anxiety and perceived stress in the sample population."

In other words, taking up a new hobby like watercolor can be quite relaxing! There are so many fun and simple watercolor painting ideas to try, no matter your level of creativity. The time is right to see what it’s all about. So, grab a brush and a tray of paints and dive on in...the water(color) is fine!

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  • How to Get Started With Watercolor Painting
  • Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners
  • Watercolor Flowers Painting Ideas
  • Watercolor Landscape Painting Ideas
  • Watercolor Animals Painting Ideas
  • Abstract Watercolor Painting Ideas

How to Get Started With Watercolor Painting

The best way to get started with watercolor painting to learn the basics. You can get your watercolor exploration underway quickly and easily with painting classes where you’ll learn techniques from skilled artists and top-rated teachers eager to share their skills.

For a fun group activity, try spirited paint and sip in Los Angeles, paint and sip in NYC, paint and sip in Orange County, or paint and sip near you. It’s an exciting way to develop confidence with expert guidance from some dynamite painting teachers.

Or, if in-person sessions aren't for you, there are plenty of online painting classes available for you to learn and practice your new hobby from home!

If you’re up for making a test run on your own as you venture into watercolor painting for beginners, all you need is some watercolor paper, a tray of paint, a jar of water and some brushes. Here are some great watercolor painting ideas to get your feet wet!

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners

1. Fruit

Fruit is a great watercolor painting idea for using layered colors to practice the smooth contours and complex tones. Change the direction of the light to see how the colors differ and to figure out how you might capture them in watercolors.

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2. Wet-on-Wet Freeform

This is one of the best watercolor painting ideas for learning how to control pigment in water. Spread some water on your paper, then pick up some color with your brush and touch it to the surface.

You’ll see the color bleed into the water in a veining pattern. Add other colors and more water to see how it changes.

3. Gradients

Try this wet-on-wet watercolor painting idea by wetting your paper first, then picking up two related colors — blue and teal, for example — and adding them to the paper, dark to light. Add other colors and spread them together to see how they interact.

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4. Geometric Shapes

These are great watercolor painting ideas for testing brush pressure. Create a shape using water first, then add some color and see what happens.

Or try loading your brush with paint and applying color directly to dry paper. You’ll start to see how watercolors work in both modes.

5. Layered Colors

Another easy watercolor painting idea for learning to blend colors is layering. Try the wet-on-wet method with a single color and let it dry. Then, add another color on top in a light wash to see the translucent tones blend.

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6. Simple Still Life

Once you have a feel for it, a great watercolor painting idea to get you started are simple still-life arrangements. Try setting a few items on a tabletop in front of you and examine how the light and shadows fall on and around them. Be extra attentive to what colors you’re actually seeing.

7. Color Wheel

The easiest watercolor painting idea to get a sense of how watercolors work is a simple color wheel. Paint the primary colors in a circle or triangle pattern, then mix them together to fill in the secondary colors in between.

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8. Natural Patterns

Textures such as wood, stone, marble and slate are very easy watercolor painting ideas. Use wet-on-wet and add colored washes and lines like veins or wood grain while the initial wash is still damp.

9. Insects

Try a watercolor butterfly, ladybug, caterpillar or other insects with interesting color and textural combinations. Play around with different brushes to create fuzz, shells, skin, watercolor butterfly wings and more.

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Watercolor Flowers Painting Ideas

10. Wildflowers

Capturing wildflowers in their natural environment is an excellent watercolor painting idea for capturing vivid colors. Find a field nearby or paint from a reference photo.

Make sure to vary the size and shape using different brushes. Add a few watercolor butterflies for interest!

11. Orchids

The delicate contours of orchid petals set against the linear stems and thick leaves make a wonderful contrast to capture in watercolors, making them perfect flower painting ideas for beginners. Practice creating a variety of textures and tones by painting a single subject.

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12. Poppies

The vivid scarlet petals of poppies translate beautifully into watercolors. Go bold with a lot of pigment on your brush or play around with creating washes for a more delicate effect.

13. Roses

Roses can take on a dream-like quality when explored as a watercolor painting idea. Practice capturing their luminous petals with layered washes of complex color combinations.

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14. Hyacinths

With their tall stalks and tufts of colorful blooms, these flowers are a watercolor painting idea that everyone can handle. Try creating the soft clustered tops with some loose brushwork to apply light and shade simultaneously.

15. Sunflowers

A sunflower watercolor image can be a very easy watercolor painting idea to pull off, even for beginners! Create a dark circular center and add yellow petals around it by pressing and dragging your brush outward.

Once you have the hang of it, add several sunflower watercolor blooms in different sizes.

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16. Lilies

Lilies are one of the best watercolor flower painting ideas for experimenting with vivid hues. Sketch the blossom shape first. Add some wet-on-wet technique starting in the center and working your way outward. And don’t be afraid to add more color.

17. Mixed Bouquet

Choose a selection from the list of floral watercolor painting ideas above and paint them into a bouquet. If you plan your colors accordingly, you can create your own flower fireworks display!

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Watercolor Landscape Painting Ideas

18. Sunset

A watercolor sunset lets you create gradients with a wide range of palettes, depending on the feeling you’re trying to capture. Try an outdoor watercolor sunset painting session and let nature lead the way to your start to painting a landscape.

19. Cloudscape

The natural patterns of clouds are excellent for playing with lighter washes. Leave plenty of white space for the highlights. Then, go wild adding darker washes in various colors to capture the essence of cloudbanks.

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20. Mountains

Painting watercolor mountains lets you experiment with texture and shadow in your watercolor landscapes. You can create effects with wet-on-wet first, then add dry brush touches to lay in shadows. Throw in a few watercolor trees around the edges to create a full landscape!

21. Night Sky

There may be no simpler watercolor painting idea around! Layer lighter blues and violets, then add washes of magenta, aqua and even greens to add depth and cosmic effects.

A few flicks of white from a wet brush add as many stars as you want for this trippy painting idea.

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22. Desert

If you don’t have a desert nearby, use reference photos. Study how the colors of the desert are more than just brown and green. Test out purple shadows and blue highlights to bring the watercolor mountains in your desert scene to life.

23. Ocean

The tranquility of the sea makes a lovely watercolor landscape summer painting idea. Use wet-on-wet techniques to capture the transition from darker water in the distance to lighter water up close. Add foam and whitecaps with a bit of thicker white paint.

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24. Meadows

Try capturing a lush meadow or a grassy field as a helpful watercolor painting idea for learning texture. Alternate between dry and wet brush techniques for tall grass stalks and shorter ground cover.

25. Forest

Creating woods filled with watercolor trees can be one of the most rewarding watercolor painting ideas you’ll ever try. You can create a detailed portrait with veined leaves and textured bark or paint a silhouette of pine forest against a moonlit sky.

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Watercolor Animals Painting Ideas

26. Bears

These woodland giants make a magnificent watercolor painting idea. Try expressing shadow, highlights and reflected light against their mostly brown fur in blues, magentas, reds and more. Find images of bears in various lighting to find one that works easily for you.

27. Horses

These beauties are a watercolor painting idea that helps you practice light, shading and shape. Start by sketching or tracing a simple horse form. Add layers of colors to capture naturalistic tones, light and shading. Be sure to use clear photos for reference.

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28. Tropical Birds

Few watercolor painting ideas are as exciting as tropical birds! Capture a rainbow of colors in impressionistic or realistic forms, or a blend of the two. Find vibrant photos to work from and don’t be afraid to add tons of bright color.

29. Pets

For a tribute to your beloved fur babies as well as a great watercolor painting idea, experiment with wet and dry methods to create fur and hair textures while testing intriguing color sets. Frame the results and add them to the family gallery!

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30. Farm Animals

Cows, pigs, chickens and sheep all make whimsical watercolor painting ideas! Try a realistic approach or something a little more lighthearted and cartoonish.

Test fun color combinations and techniques to build your watercolor skills. Green chickens and blue pigs? Why not?

31. Whales

Watercolors are the perfect medium for creating the shimmering glow of these majestic beauties. Use black, white, blues and grays to build transparent layers. And if painting realistically isn’t for you, try a more cartoonish or abstract version.

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32. Lions

The king of the jungle makes a fantastic watercolor painting idea for practicing soft textures. Capturing their furry layers and glowing coats by blending various shades of ocher, gold and sepia tones.

33. Exotic Fish

It’s not difficult to capture the mystical, flowing texture of fish moving under water. If you can, work from a live model like koi or betas to get a true sense of how light behaves. As with creating other tropical watercolor animals, the more color the better!

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34. Zebras

Zebras are a striking watercolor painting idea for working with contrast. Shade the white stripes with bands of blues, purples or greens to create exciting effects. Blast the background with vivid color to push the animals to the foreground!

Abstract Watercolor Painting Ideas

35. Salt Wash

This abstract watercolor painting idea lets you create marbled veining that looks like magical sprays. Spread a wash of color on your paper and sprinkle ordinary table salt into it.

Then watch as the salt dissolves and pushes the color all over the place! Brush off the remaining salt when the paper dries.

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36. Alcohol Spread

Splattering alcohol into intense color washes pushes pigment away from the drops, creating tiny white spots that look like stars. Layer up several colors and see what beautiful multi-hued reveals you can achieve for an intriguing aesthetic painting idea.

37. Wax Resist

Did you know you can block out areas on your paper and keep them pure white? Something waxy like a white birthday candle or a white crayon rubbed onto the paper will prevent the color from seeping in. When finished, carefully rub off the wax to see the negative space shine!

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38. Tape Resist

Create perfect lines and angular abstract watercolors by laying strips of masking tape on your paper before painting. Carefully roll off the tape when your paper dries.

This watercolor painting idea is great for creating sharp angles. Or try tearing the edge of the tape for a cool deckled effect.

39. Soap Resist

Suds and bubbles added to watercolors create delicate webs and lacy patterns everywhere. Use a soda straw to blow bubbles into a drop of soap added to a wet-on-wet color wash on your paper. You’ll be blown away by the effects!

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40. Plastic Wrap Lift

This watercolor painting idea is a fun and simple way to create an amazing texture. Crinkle a piece of plastic wrap and press it into wet paint to see white or lighter-colored veins appear. Or try dipping the wrap into wet color, then press it to the paper to create colorful splotches.

41. Soda Straw Airbrush

Build up a bit of liquid color on the surface of your paper and push it around by blowing through a straw. The result? Vivid tie-dye splashes of color explode off the surface. You can also explore different pour painting methods for similar results.

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42. Yarn Drag

Try dipping a length of yarn or string through wet watercolors and dragging it along the paper to see what sorts of abstract designs occur. It’s one of the easiest watercolor painting ideas ever. Anyone can do it!

43. Tissue Paper Press

Press a damp piece of tissue or paper towel into your watercolors and mash it onto your paper. You’ll create a kaleidoscope of soft textures and colors in your image.

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No matter which watercolor painting idea you decide to try first, make sure you’re having fun while you do it! And don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty as you learn.

The more you play around with color and water, the more you’ll discover methods that work best for the projects you have in mind.

For even more fun painting ideas, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!

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About Me

I am an expert in various topics, including watercolor painting. I have a deep understanding of watercolor techniques, painting ideas, and the benefits of engaging in art activities. My knowledge is based on extensive research, practical experience, and a passion for the arts. I can provide valuable insights and guidance on watercolor painting, from beginner techniques to advanced concepts.

Watercolor Painting Concepts

The article discusses various concepts related to watercolor painting, including easy painting ideas for beginners, watercolor flowers, landscapes, animals, and abstract painting techniques. It also provides guidance on getting started with watercolor painting, emphasizing the benefits of engaging in this creative activity. Let's delve into the specific concepts mentioned in the article.

Getting Started With Watercolor Painting

The best way to get started with watercolor painting is to learn the basics. One can quickly and easily begin their watercolor exploration through painting classes, both in-person and online. These classes offer opportunities to learn techniques from skilled artists and top-rated teachers [[1]].

For those who prefer independent learning, all that's needed to make a test run into watercolor painting for beginners is some watercolor paper, a tray of paint, a jar of water, and some brushes [[1]].

Easy Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners

The article provides several easy watercolor painting ideas for beginners, such as painting fruit, experimenting with wet-on-wet freeform techniques, creating gradients, exploring geometric shapes, and practicing layered colors. It also suggests trying simple still life arrangements, painting a color wheel, and capturing natural patterns and insects [[1]].

Watercolor Flowers Painting Ideas

The article presents a variety of watercolor flower painting ideas, including capturing wildflowers, orchids, poppies, roses, hyacinths, sunflowers, lilies, and creating mixed bouquets. Each idea emphasizes the use of different techniques to capture the unique characteristics of these flowers [[1]].

Watercolor Landscape Painting Ideas

The article explores watercolor landscape painting ideas, such as painting sunsets, clouds, mountains, night skies, deserts, oceans, meadows, and forests. It encourages experimenting with textures, shadows, and natural patterns to create captivating landscapes [[1]].

Watercolor Animals Painting Ideas

The article suggests watercolor painting ideas for capturing animals, including bears, horses, tropical birds, pets, farm animals, whales, lions, exotic fish, and zebras. Each idea focuses on practicing light, shading, and shape to bring these animals to life on paper [[1]].

Abstract Watercolor Painting Ideas

The article introduces abstract watercolor painting ideas, such as salt wash, alcohol spread, wax resist, tape resist, soap resist, plastic wrap lift, soda straw airbrush, yarn drag, and tissue paper press. These ideas encourage experimentation with different techniques to create unique and visually captivating abstract artworks [[1]].

By exploring these concepts and ideas, individuals can gain confidence and develop their skills in watercolor painting, leading to a more creative and fulfilling artistic experience.

43 Simple Watercolor Painting Ideas for Beginners for 2024 (2024)
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