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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

The Four Building Blocks of Watercolor Painting

Watercolor painting is one of the most attractive yet complicated forms of painting. The playful nature of water often makes this medium quite unpredictable and difficult to control. However, this doesn't mean that you should stop putting in effort to improve your art. 

In this blog today, we will discuss the four building blocks of a watercolor painting. These elements will help you improve your painting, and create impactful artwork. 



What Are the Four Building Blocks of a Watercolor Painting?

Before we proceed further, I want you to know that there is a vast difference between watercolor techniques and the building blocks we are going to discuss. The techniques are the starting point of your art and different methods that you can employ to create your paintings. Whereas the building blocks are more advanced practices that help you improve your work. These four elements are color, shape, value, and edges. Let’s discuss them in detail. 

1. Color

Most of you might know this, but for those who don’t, your choice of colors plays a very crucial role in your watercolor painting. If you don’t pay attention to the number of colors in your palette, it’s the best time to start now. When it comes to watercolors, the best practice is to work with a limited color palette. 

The first thing to remember is that every hue of the same color blends, mixes, and results very differently with another color. For example, your ruby red will give very different results than crimson red when painted along with the same hue of yellow.

Hence, it is crucial for you to decide on one dominant color and a few complementary colors to create a sense of unity and rhythm in your work. It might sound daunting to start with, but learning more about the color wheel and the behavior and meaning of colors might be a good start for beginners.

2. Shape

One common complaint that artists often have with watercolor painting is a cluttered composition. It arises due to an imbalance in the weightage of your components. To avoid such issues, divide your components into different shapes rather than details. For example, if you are drawing a landscape, see how much weight you have given to the sky, the land, the trees, and other elements. 

If you can, divide your shapes into large, small, and medium size groups. Start with the placement of larger shapes so that you can decide if you want to create a vertical format or a horizontal format. It will also help you with the placement of your focal point. Once you have finalized the major bigger shapes, move on to the medium and then smaller shapes to fill the empty spaces on your canvas. This will not only help you fill gaps but also keep your entire composition in sync with every element.

3. Value 

The value of a color is determined by how light or dark it is. If you need a color of a higher value, add more black to it otherwise add white for a lower value. The stronger you are at striking a balance between the light and dark values, the more depth your artwork will have. To make your focal point more impactful, add the strongest contrast closest to your focal point,

Another tip is to start working with your darker and middle values first before moving on to the lightest. For better results, try to achieve a transition from dark to light as you approach the whites of your canvas. Finally, the most commonly seen mistake is that most artists forget to connect their darker values. Especially if you have put the darker values in the foreground, always join them together to create a synchronized appearance. 

4. Edges

The final block to create a more impactful watercolor painting is to know how to work around your edges. When you are using watercolor, you create harder edges by painting on paper and you wet it with water to achieve softer, more blurred edges. Just like everything else needs to be in balance, your edges are no different. If you create an artwork with all the hard edges, it looks unpleasantly sharp and monotonous. Similarly, an artwork with all the soft edges can appear to have lost focus. Thus arises the need to strike a balance. 

You need to understand the areas where your paper must be, wet, dry, or somewhere in between to achieve a more balanced look. However, you must remember that the purpose of balancing the edges is to create contrast in your work. Hence depending on your work, you can either divide your canvas vertically or horizontally to differentiate the edges or paint them throughout the paper according to the mood and effect you want to create with your work. 

Practice is the Key To Improving Your Watercolor Painting

If you find this information too overwhelming to absorb for now, don’t worry — you are not alone in this. Many new artists often find it difficult to grasp it initially. However, with some practice, you will start seeing visible results in your watercolor paintings. Once you accustom yourself to the basics of watercolor techniques, you can start trying to implement these tips into your work for enhanced results. These building blogs will help you enrich the quality of your work with more depth and meaning in your composition. Irrespective of how difficult it might feel now, these tips will definitely help you succeed in your attempts to create better art.

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