Free Tips for Successful Watercolor Painting
Frequently Asked Questions

I'm not very good at drawing. Do I need drawing lessons before I try watercolor painting?
Nope! With "You Can Do It! ART" watercolor lessons, you don't need to be able to draw at all! The
DVD video lessons are designed to encourage you to express yourself in color, lines, shapes, and
effects that do NOT require detailed drawing! In fact, the whole approach is to free you up from
feeling that your paintings should look like photographs! You can certainly take drawing lessons at
any time, before, during, or after, but they are not required in order to make beautiful original
creative watercolor paintings of your own!

Do I need an easel? Easels are great for oil painting and acrylics. I can't get along without mine.
For watercolor painting, an easel is not necessary, but it is nice for specific times and techniques.
When working wet-on-wet, and encouraging the paint to flow down the paper, as in the glazing
technique, a table top easel can be very helpful. Also at the last stage of painting,
after it is dry, to
add some fine details. I prop my dry watercolor painting on an easel just before I call it "done".
This gives me a chance to back away from it and view it from across the room, the way it will
appear when it hangs on the wall. At that point, I see little details that I want to enhance, and I do
that while it's on the easel.

Why do I have to use the professional grade watercolor paper when I’m just learning?
Can't I practice on the cheaper paper and then use the professional paper for a real
painting?
Good results from watercolor painting are very dependent on the surface of the paper. Cheaper,
lighter-weight paper doesn’t give the beautiful textures and flow of paint that professional paper
does. Painting on better paper gives a much better chance of turning out pleasing effects while
learning. On the other hand, you can paint very skillfully on cheap paper and have very
UNsatisfactory effects. Not because of you, but because of the limitations of the paper. So the few
extra pennies spent while learning on GOOD paper is worth it! Your success because of the
GOOD paper is very encouraging and shows you what you can really do. Later, you can certainly
choose your papers depending on what you know will happen with them.

When I'm drawing my composition on the watercolor paper, I can’t seem to get the
drawing right the first time. I hate the way the watercolor paper gets messed up from all
my erasing. How do I put those little details into my watercolors without erasing and
changing things?
Erasing does cause the watercolor paper to lose its special qualities where it's been rubbed. You
don’t want to do a lot of drawing and erasing right on your watercolor painting-to-be.  Instead, you
can draw and erase to your heart’s content on lightweight copy paper.  Graphite paper is great for
transferring the drawing onto your watercolor paper. (Graphite paper is like carbon, only lighter
and not as messy). Put it between your drawing and the watercolor paper, then just draw over the
lines you made on the copy paper. Voila’! Your drawing is now on your watercolor paper. No fuss.
No muss. Lessons 5-8 of "Getting Started" DVD videos deal with drawing elements and will give
you some more tips for painting details.

I’ve used my brushes quite a bit. Now sometimes I get a little hair that sticks out and
spoils the lines I’m painting. Is it alright to cut the hair off?
Sure. Go ahead and trim the unruly brush hair! Cut it back enough so it’s really out of the way. If
only the very end of the hair is bent and sticking out, just trim it back to where the brush shape
looks smooth again.

I accidentally left my brush sitting in water and now it’s ruined. Is there any way to
reshape it so I can use it again?
If it’s really bad and frayed, it’s usually pretty hard to get the
brush shaped up again! But sometimes a “bad hair day” brush is just what you need to get an
interesting texture in a painting. Don’t throw it away before you get creative with using it. See what
happens! If, however, the brush hairs are only bent and not frayed, try this. Wet the brush
thoroughly, squeeze the water out, and wrap the brush hairs carefully and snugly in tissue paper
to "set" the hairs of the brush in their correct position. Sort of a "Brush Hair Beauty Salon". It might
retrain the hairs into their proper place. Leave it overnight to dry and see if it worked.

Can I just staple my paper to the board instead of using masking tape? Sure. Masking
tape is quicker and easier to use, and gives that nice white border around your painting, but
staples work fine if you have a heavy board that will take them; and if you don’t mind prying with a
screwdriver to get them out when the painting is dry.

Is it all right to paint on both sides of the paper? It really is fine, if you don't mind the
decision of which of your paintings you want to show in the frame! Actually, it's a great way to get
double duty from the watercolor paper if you're not planning on framing something. In the "You
Can Do It! ART" kit, one side of the paper is smoother than the other, so have fun painting on
both sides to feel the difference.

I have two family members who want to learn watercolor painting. One is my mother, and
the other is my son. I've been looking for an activity they can do together. Will the
lessons work for both of them?
Yes. The "You Can Do It! ART" lessons have been used by
both young children and adults and everyone in between. The DVD video demonstrations are
easy and do-able, and it would be fun for them to paint together and see what different results
they come out with. The conversations are what make it so much fun to do it together. They can
talk about their paintings as they paint, and enjoy having shared a relaxing, creative experience
together when they are done. Great multi-generation idea! And how about this: It would be super
to display both paintings together in matching frames as a commemoration of the experience!
(Speaking as a grandmother, I can tell you this is a winner of a plan!)

My kids are both using the "You Can Do It! ART" lessons. One is older and naturally
does better at the lessons. How do I keep the younger one from getting discouraged?
 
It's great fun to paint together as a family or with friends, but sometimes it
is a little distracting.
Keep emphasizing the personal aspect of painting-- that no two paintings are meant to be alike,
and that the most important part of art is
letting your own ideas, colors, and fun happen, no matter
what anyone else does.
It also may help if they paint at different times, so the comparing doesn't
go on during the painting time. Watching others while trying to do your own painting
can be very
distracting, and stifle some of the creativity. Maybe use two different tables or areas for painting if
they are painting at the same time. Plan a "surprise unveiling" ceremony when they are done.
Practice positive comments on the use of color, design, creative ideas, unique effects in portions
of the painting. Let each family member comment on these elements of art, complimenting the
artist. We all love positive feedback, no matter what our age!

Are the "You Can Do It! ART" watercolor lessons usable in oil painting too?
A great portion of the lessons do carry over into painting with oils and acrylics! The lessons on
color mixing, brush strokes, and Chinese Brush Painting in the first four lessons easily transfer to
oil or acrylic painting besides watercolor. However the first lesson, Wet-on-wet Painting is specific
to watercolor painting, and produces effects that are not possible with other types of paint. That is
the fun of watercolors.

Why do you start with the watercolor painting lessons instead of oils or acrylics? I've
heard watercolors are more difficult.
First, watercolor painting is not necessarily more difficult! It depends on the teaching approach.
Taking each step and thoroughly experimenting with it takes the mystery out of watercolor
painting. The video demonstrations provide easy, fun lessons on the basics of watercolor painting
to lay the groundwork for success. Second, watercolor painting can begin without a huge
investment in start-up materials. Third, color mixing can be very quickly and easily learned with
watercolors because the media itself mixes quickly and the effects are easily observed. Fourth,
the clean-up time and effort after each lesson is minimized. Fifth, watercolor paintings dry quickly
and are easy to store.

How do I mix pink? There isn't any in the paint box.  Pink is made by using a tiny bit of red
and a lot of water in the mix. Drip some clean water onto your palette (you can use the lid of your
paintbox) and then dip just the tip of your paintbrush into the red and swirl it into the water. The
more water you use, and less paint, the paler the color will be. This is how you get a pale version
of any color.

How are professional tube paints different from the paintbox paints in the kit?
Professional tube paints are more expensive, but for good reason. They have some different
qualities that are very satisfying. The pigments are more dense, so the paints last a long time. It
takes much less water to use tube paints when diluting and mixing them. The paints are
formulated for better coverage and flow on the paper.  Here is a
list of watercolor tube paints and
information to use when you're ready to move up in quality (and price). They correspond to the
colors in the kit's Prang paintbox and will mix in ways that are familiar to you.


Send us your questions! You will be helping yourself, AND someone else who has the
same question!

           
Happy Painting! And
send us a photo .  We'll feature it in the Student Gallery!
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