When I started painting in watercolor, control was my goal. I needed to know how to make the paint and water do what I wanted it to do. I also believed that my style was about control; I planned to work in a botanical style, a far cry from my loose & intuitive style today.
Loose Watercolor Comes Alive!
I love the way loose watercolor has taken off over the past few years. It’s so fun to see paintings that sparkle with lively color, splashes of beauty and freedom that just feel joyful to me. I hope that this trendy lively approach helps artists feel free to explore a style that is heart-led and let go of worrying about whether or not they are breaking the “rules” of watercolor.
7 Tips to help you paint more loosely in watercolor
Whether you love realistic or abstract paintings, or fall somewhere in between, a loose, free approach can help strengthen your painting skills in many ways. Even in a tightly detailed painting there is room to let a little color flow and mingle!
Here are some things to remember to help you paint more loosely and find freedom to explore your own creativity more fully:
- Set aside time to play. I call it “watching the paint,” those times when you paint just for the fun of the process without worrying about the outcome.
- Keep it simple. Seeing what happens when you let two colors race across the paper and blend together is a great way to explore color theory and find your next favorite combination of hues.
- Doing it wrong leads to doing it right. If you make a mistake in watercolor, it’s not the end; the learning that happens in our mistakes is greater than what we learn by playing it safe in the comfort zone. And sometimes those mistakes lead to the most incredible new discoveries!
- Redefine your outcome. Loose is kind of the wrong term. I prefer “heart-led” because when you let the heart lead, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you’re destined to paint in a particular style; you perfect style will find you, and it WILL be your happy place.
- Shake things up with a new color or product. The comfort zone is a cozy place to paint, but if it’s starting to feel boring, there’s no better way to get out than to put something new on your paper. Creativity loves surprising us, and it does this so well when we break out of the usual into new territory.
- Different is GOOD. Not one master artist became a master because they were painting just like everyone else. The best artists blaze their own trail, are often ostracized for challenging the establishment, and indulge their own desires, impulses and passions without regard for whether or not anyone will understand or appreciate it.
- Have fun! This was #1 on the list, but it’s worth repeating. Your creativity will thrive when you are most yourself, and we are most authentically us when we are having a great time. Make your painting sessions brimful of joy, and your paintings will come alive!
All this month I’ll be teaching beginning watercolor approaches from a heart-centered learning method with a brand new course you can find out about and join here and Friday videos on YouTube. Watch today’s below!
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Angela Fehr is an internationally known watercolour artist and instructor living in in northern British Columbia, Canada. Teaching over 5,000 students in her online school, Fehr emphasizes fluid and intuitive painting, teaching technique clearly and encouraging students to explore their own unique style as they develop watercolour skills.