Tips for Sketching with Watercolor Paints

Sketching with Watercolor PaintsSketching with watercolor paints instead of traditional dry media can give you the advantage of colorful, textured sketches that offer a more complete impression of a scene. Here are some tips for getting started with watercolor sketching.

Watercolor Sketching Tip #1: Keep it Loose

The first key to sketching with watercolor is to keep your hand loose and use big, sweeping strokes. This will speed the sketching process and leave you with the feeling and composition of a scene without taking too much time. Remember, you’re not trying to make a painting worthy of a frame. You just want to record what you see for a complete painting in the future.

Watercolor Sketching Tip #2: Skip the Details

One of the best reasons for sketching with watercolor instead of sketching with dry media is simplicity. Broad strokes and a loose hand will keep your sketch spontaneous, but you may still fall into the trap of over recording. To combat this, always use the biggest brush possible. Using a larger brush will help you record the big picture, not all the fussy little details, keeping you more focused on capturing the atmosphere and composition of the moment.

Watercolor Sketching Tip #3: Paint in Chunks

If you are a stickler for details, go ahead and paint them, but not with your composition sketch. Do separate sketches of the details that catch your eye. For example, if you are sketching a busy farmer’s market you should paint an overall composition sketch, a sketch of the gourd display, a sketch of the intriguing older lady, a sketch of the farmer’s dog…you get the idea.

Watercolor Sketching Tip #4: Use White to Your Advantage

Your first instinct may be to cover your white paper with color, but not so fast. Use the white to your advantage. Use it to signify light in your sketches. The pure white paper can be highlights, sun bleached areas or just a visual note to yourself to leave an area lighter in color.

Watercolor Sketching Tip #5: Carry a Minimum of Tools

Nothing is more distracting than having a jumble of painting tools that you don’t really need. Keep it simple.

Follow these tips as you fill the pages of your watercolor sketchbook and you will end up with sketches that are useful references for your paintings.