Fun Watercolor Ideas to Try

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Spice up your paintings with these fun watercolor ideas. These simple techniques are a great way to add interest to paintings.

If you’re new to watercolors, be sure to check out these other watercolor posts.

collage of watercolor painting ideas

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Once you learn basic watercolor techniques, trying new ideas is fun. Try combining several ideas in your next painting.

These are some techniques that I’m really loving right now.

Fun Watercolor Ideas to Try

Using Your Least Favorite Color

If you have a set of watercolor pans, there are probably a few colors that still look brand new, while the others look like something the cat dragged in. You know the ones.

Why not find a way to use them?

One of my least favorite colors is Phthalo Green. Phthalo green is a cool green that is very vibrant. It’s just not my go-to green. I find it a bit garish at full strength.

It turns out that it’s beautiful when it’s diluted. I love using it to create a pale mint green.

watercolor painting of coffee cups

I find myself reaching for this color all the time now. It features heavily in an upcoming post.

You can try diluting or dulling your color with its complementary color.

What color is your least favorite to paint with?

Adding a Background

Most watercolor paintings don’t have a background (unless you paint landscapes.) I’ve been loving adding a background after painting something, especially dark backgrounds.

watercolor paintings in sketchbook of goose and mushroom

Creating the painted background is relaxing by going in with a tiny brush around the edges. I even love the tiny white lines that come from not painting up to the edges.

watercolor painting of jellyfish

Backgrounds are really pretty when there are blooms and variations in tone. I love the end results.

If painting around the edges sounds like your idea of hell, try painting a background with a wash of a pastel color instead. Let it dry, and paint over it.

Painting with Negative Space

This is a brain-breaking exercise, but I find it really fun.

Instead of painting the object, paint the background, leaving the object white. You can sketch it out if you want, but painting free-hand is more interesting.

What if you mess up, though? Go in with a second coat and darken the background while cleaning up the lines. The mistakes become shadows and look really cool.

paintings of geese
Gouache with sketch and watercolor without sketch

Then, add the details to finish your painting.

Add Metallic Paints

I’m obsessed with metallic paints right now. They can be added to regular colors, or metallic details can be added at the end.

squares painted in watercolor with gold details

The trick is to use metallic shades that go with your paint colors. I have this simple set, which mostly contains gold. I use red gold over reds and pinks and so on.

hearts painted in watercolor with gold accents

Metallic paints also create a beautiful effect when dropped into a wet color, which is the next tip.

Wet-on-Wet with Other Colors

Normally, when we paint, we pick one color for objects. It’s really fun to add other colors as well.

While the paint is wet, drop in another color.

jar painted in different colors of yellow and brown watercolors

You can be subtle and use similar colors, or you can get crazy with the colors. Both are fun.

jars painted with watercolor

Use Analogous Colors for One Object

Lately, I’ve been loving painting with an entire range of colors. So, instead of only choosing cobalt teal blue, I also use diluted phthalo green, cobalt turquoise, Amazonite Genuine, and Prussian Green. I did the same with the red.

watercolor lettering that says "sending love"

It creates a really dynamic look.

Bonus points for using granulating colors.

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