My Colorful Journey from Colored Pencils to Watercolors

In the world of art, transitions can be both exhilarating and challenging. For many artists, experimenting with watercolors is often accompanied by a mix of excitement and trepidation.

As someone who has embarked on this journey, I want to share my experience and encourage you, fellow artist to embrace the wonders of watercolors without fear.

My main message to you resonates strongly: “Don’t be afraid of watercolors!” In fact, as a colored pencil artist accustomed to preserving the white of the paper and having patience with layering, you hold a unique advantage.

Hyacinth with watercolor base and colored pencils for details. Molly’s Fine Art Academy

The Comfort Zone of Colored Pencils:
Colored pencils offer a sense of control and precision. As a colored pencil artist, I found solace in the ability to layer and blend, carefully building up details while preserving the untouched areas of the paper. The fear of making irreversible mistakes often kept me within the confines of this familiar medium.

The Leap of Faith into Watercolors:
The decision to delve into watercolors was a significant leap of faith. Watercolors have a reputation for their unpredictable nature, with pigment merging and flowing in unexpected ways. The fear of losing control over the artwork can be daunting, especially for artists accustomed to the precision of colored pencils!

Discovering the Advantage:
Contrary to common apprehensions, being a colored pencil artist provides a unique advantage when transitioning to watercolors. The meticulous approach and attention to detail developed with colored pencils can be seamlessly applied to watercolors.

The ability to preserve the white of the paper, a skill honed in colored pencil work, and the ability to apply lots of layers until you get the result you want, become valuable assets in watercolor painting.

Why I got my first watercolor set:

I bought my first watercolor pencils to speed up the colored pencil process. I was doing a lot of pet portraits at the time, and as the expression goes, “Time is Money!”

I quickly got addicted to the pigments and blending colors; they are so beautiful when activated by water.
To my surprise, using watercolor pigments helped me understand color theory much easier.

This helped me so much when choosing colors for pet portraits, botanicals, and wildlife paintings.

So, if you’re thinking about trying them out here are a few beginner tips and techniques that my students loved!

Purchasing watercolors

  1. Similar to my advice with colored pencils, I suggest purchasing a small kit of professional brands of watercolors. Daniel Smith or Winsor Newton are my favorites.
    The quality pigments will give you a much better experience and first impressions than the student-grade pigments. You don’t need to purchase a dozen colors at first; a kit with the primary colors, burnt sienna, and raw sienna will be plenty for a beginner.
  2. The same goes for watercolor paper. If you want to use watercolors with your colored pencils for details of the final layers, I recommend Hot-Pressed watercolor paper.
    If you want to do the loose wet-on-wet watercolor technique (where you wet the paper first, then add the watercolor), You’ll have to use Cold-Pressed watercolor paper.

🎨 The first thing I have my students do in class is a color wheel and swatches of your colors. I find these practices very relaxing, plus, I can’t stress enough how useful it is to have swatches of all your colors!

The journey from colored pencils to watercolors is not about abandoning one medium for another; it’s about expanding your artistic horizons.

🎨 Let the skills acquired as a colored pencil artist be your guiding light as you explore the world of vibrant pigments of watercolors.
Embrace the unpredictability, and you may find a newfound joy in the dance of watercolors on your canvas!

πŸ“£ I’m so excited to be working on a FREE beginners watercolor series for my Patreon Page and YouTube channel! You’ll learn about purchasing your first watercolor supplies to creating your first masterpiece! I will keep you posted when the first video is up!

In the meantime, my latest YouTube landscape tutorial, I show the top 10 watercolor techniques that are great for beginners to try.

Here’s the link: 10 Watercolor Techniques for Beginners

πŸ‘‰ p.s. If you’re ready to go and want to watch the the watercolor and colored pencil Fusion workshop that I did via Zoom last Spring, it’s now available for purchase!

The workshop (ladybug and hyacinth above) includes supply lists, line art, reference photos, bonus warm up video, plus a complimentary Zoom call with me for any Q&A’s! for only $39!

Click here for more info!

Ladybug and flowers with watercolor base and colored pencils for details. Molly’s Fine Art Academy

🎨 Lots more to come stay tuned!

Happy painting! Cheers, Molly 🌻