Inspiring Watercolor Art and Lessons Learned

inspiring watercolor artBought some new watercolor pencils or watercolor pencils and left with no inspiration for your next watercolor painting?

Looking at the watercolor art of other artists is often a good way to come up with ideas yourself.

Today we will look at several watercolor speed paintings of other artists to come up with ideas and study their workflow.

If you look at the final product you might be a little overwhelmed and think you will never be able to make something as good.

First of all, it’s not a competition so stop comparing yourself to others.

Secondly, watching professionals paint and seeing which techniques they use can often elucidate the painting process.

Lastly, if you feel up to the challenge you can always try to paint along with the other artist and learn as you go. Of course, most professional artists use high-quality watercolor paint, so if you bought a cheaper variety it might be a little difficult to pull off some techniques.

Watercolor Portrait

First, we will look at Qinni work on a project she calls “Starred Freckles.” Right from the start, there are three important things to notice. First, she uses a lot of water at the beginning stage of her watercolor painting and is not afraid to let the paint to where it wants to go even if this means different colors mixing.

The second point goes hand in hand with the first; don’t be afraid the paint outside of the lines. Your line work is there just to help you in your painting, not to limit you. Often the overall mood is more important than individual details.

And thirdly, notice how she uses only two colors, red and blue, in her entire painting, giving nice harmony. We often feel constrained to try and draw or paint as realistically as possible. Instead, try to use some creativity! No human has red and blue as skin colors, yet it works in this painting.

Last but not least, you don’t have to fill the entire sheet of paper with paint. Qinni cleverly leaves the forehead and the lower part of the girls face largely white to draw attention to the eyes.

You can see that in the final stage, a lot of detail is added using a very small brush. If you are just starting out, you might not have such a small brush available. In that case, you can use some watercolor pencils as well. Since you can sharpen them to a very sharp tip, you can be a good replacement for a spotter brush.

Tranquil Landscape

Secondly, we are going to look at a basic landscape by Lindsay Weirich. Although these landscapes always look very simplistic, they are deceivingly difficult to pull off. She starts very light with only 3 colors to give the painting an over atmosphere. She then goes in with a very dark paint in stark contrast with the background.

Try to withstand the urge to smoothly blend every color and don’t shy away from contrast in your paintings. Since a big contrast work as a focal point for your eyes, don’t use it too often. We don’t want our viewer’s eye to constantly race over the painting.

Finally, notice how she used the difference in saturation to give the illusion of depth in her drawing. Object farther away have a lower saturation and become more saturated the closer they are.

Vivid Watercolor Art

The last watercolor speed drawing we are going to look at is by Laovaan. Notice how he uses a lot of colors to give his painting a very vivid and lively feeling. One eyebrow is yellow while the other one is black. One part of her face is red while other parts are purple and blue. He sometimes even seems to put random colors at random locations on the canvas.

Secondly, he lets the watercolor do most of the work. Not only does he not try to control the paint too much, he even encourages it to spill by applying a lot of water and then lifting his canvas. A technique that is well known with experienced watercolor artists but beginners cringe to see.

When you take a quick glance at the final drawing your eyes directly go to her eyes and the flower right of her. That is because that is where all the details are. Applying to many details outside the focus point will only distract the viewer. The shoulder, for example, is hardly painted at all.


We hope you have got some new watercolor inspiration after watching the speed painting and reading our comments on several watercolor art projects in progress. If you need one last push to get started, read some of these motivations quotes about art.

You can learn a lot by watching experts paint. But having them teach you directly is even better! Check our page on online watercolor classes for more information.