If you use digital watercolors on a tablet, you can easily paint outdoors in your neighborhood. Artist Josefina Fernandez recommends going out in the world and trying to capture a piece of the city in ten minutes. “In that time you’re going to paint the most important details.”
As you get more comfortable with your paints and how they work, try to capture an ocean or lake scene. With water paintings, as with any landscape, you can paint on location and translate exactly what you see onto your watercolor paper. If you paint inside, look at reference photos to remind you what you saw when you were outdoors, but don’t try to paint the photo. “The natural laws out in the world are totally different from those of composition, of what light does on the different planes in a landscape,” says Wiegardt.
General tips for watercolor success.
When mixing colors, try not to overmix. Too much pigment will take the translucence out of the painting. Watch especially that your darks aren’t too dark. “Pay attention to value shifts — the relationship between the lights and darks — and not so much to color shifts,” Wiegardt says.
If you’re painting with digital watercolors, you don’t have to worry about the materials. Digital painting allows you to erase a stroke you’re unhappy with, and you can work faster. With physical paint and paper, unless you’re using wet-on-wet technique, you have to wait for one color to dry before adding a different color. “When you don’t wait in real life, if the colors are touching, it turns muddy,” says Fernandez. “But with digital you can create a new layer so those watercolors will never blend.”